Organ Donation Taskforce

Organs for Transplants: a report from the UK Organ Donation Taskforce

The first report from the UK Organ Donation Taskforce was published in January 2008. Its fourteen recommendations represented a radically new framework for deceased donation and were accepted in full by the four health administrations of the UK.

The UK model for organ donation

Diagram - The UK Model for Organ Donation

The Taskforce report highlighted three key elements of the donation pathway that required attention – donor identification and referral, donor transplant coordination and organ retrieval. In particular, the Taskforce recommended:

  • more effective organisational support for donation from the wider NHS;
  • unification of the hitherto disparate elements of donor transplant coordination and organ retrieval;
  • provision of comprehensive and workable professional, ethical and legal frameworks for deceased donation, and;
  • resolution of the discrepancy between the expressed level of public support for organ donation and the actual proportion of families who give permission for organ after the death of a relative.

The Taskforce recognised that whilst the majority of critical care staff support donation, this support is tested in circumstances that are less than ideal and where active steps are need to facilitate donation. In many respects, the philosophy behind the Taskforce report was to support the more consistent application of existing examples of best practice through the provision of a sound and comprehensive framework of practice. Fundamentally, the Taskforce perceived the need to establish donation as a 'usual not unusual' component of end of life care and recognised that for every hospital to make donation ‘core’ business, additional clinical and operational support would be required. The Taskforce recommendations are directed towards establishing donation as part of the core business of every acute hospital, and when viewed as a whole, represent a coherent and comprehensive framework for deceased donation in the UK. Rather than being aligned against specific elements of the donation pathway, the recommendations create a framework in which the specific obstacles to donation can be systematically identified and overcome. The Taskforce recognised that whilst some financial investment might be required to implement its recommendations, the delivery of its objectives would be more dependent on people, and noted that overcoming the obstacles to donation would require 'leadership, boldness and willingness to change established practice'.

Organ Donation Taskforce report on Presumed Consent

Front cover - The potential impact of an opt out system for organ donation in the UK

Next section: Consent Authorisation

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