Healthcare: On the Agenda - Media focus on organ donation

- In a nutshell

The UK Organ Donation Taskforce has rejected the idea of 'presumed consent' for organ donation, saying it would be unlikely to boost donation rates.

- What's the big deal?

The UK has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe. Every year, 1,000 people in the UK die after waiting for a transplant. Currently people must sign up to the organ donation register, or their families must agree, before their organs can be used.

- What is going to happen next?

England is to launch a £4.5m public awareness campaign aimed at boosting voluntary donor numbers. It aims to sign up 20 million people at the organ donor register by 2010, and 25 million by 2013.

- How has the press played a part?

The Observer launched a campaign in January called Donor For Life. It argued that replacing the current 'opt in' system of organ donation with a new policy of 'opt out', or presumed consent, was urgently needed. It received backing from Prime Minister Gordon Brown and chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson.

- Media coverage

The Observer ran a double-page spread on the story last weekend and it was also picked up by the BBC Health online and covered on BBC Breakfast.

- PR support

The press coverage is being handled by the Department of Health's in-house press team.

8,000 - Number of UK people who require organ transplants

25% - Percentage of the UK on the transplant register.

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