Pippa is a third-year medical student at the University of Cambridge. She is a member of the Oncology Society and the vice president of Caius Medical Society She is also a tutor for science, maths, and medical school entrance exams. She writes blogs and is a BMAT Tutor for theMSAG.
A new opt-out system for organ donation will be in place in England by 2020 if approved by parliament. One already exists in Wales, where adults are presumed to be organ donors unless they have specifically recorded their decision not to be. The government has claimed that introducing a similar system in the UK will save 700 lives a year. 5,000 people are on the transplant waiting list, resulting in an estimated three people dying every day whilst waiting for an organ transplant.
This is one of the key topics that might come up in a medical school interview, be that in a panel or multiple mini interview (MMI) circuit. It is important that you are clued up on the situation and how it could affect the NHS. You should be prepared to answer interview questions where you have to state your position on a key NHS Hot topic or an ethical dilemma.
Referred to as ‘Max’s Law’, it was initiated by Max Johnson, from Cheshire, whose life was saved by a heart transplant. After Theresa May heard of his story and public campaign for the opt-out system, she made an effort for government discussion and decided to name it Max’s law in honour of his hard work.
Many people are quite sceptical about the new system. One study by Queen Mary University of London suggests that next of kin may be more likely the prevent organ and tissue donation from a relative if they haven’t explicitly given consent. Thus, there are calls for a mandatory choice system, whereby people state whether or not they wish to donate. People think that the opt-out system may not actually lead to more organ donations. Despite their relative being on the register, 547 families vetoed donations in the 6 years from 2010, according to NHS Blood and Transplant. They believe that over 1,000 people have missed out on transplants as a result. It is really important that people discuss organ donation with those close to them, especially with the new opt-out system coming in to force.
We can look at the example of Wales when considering whether opt-out organ donation is going to work. In December 2015, it adopted the opt-out system, and now has the highest organ donation consent rates in the UK. There is much discussion as to the impact the opt-out system will have. Some are sceptical as the families can still prevent organs being harvested, but the overall opinion is that it will increase the number of donations, and thus ultimately save lives.
We hope that this was a helpful overview of this NHS issue and you feel more confident tackling it if it comes up as a question. Don't hesitate to send us any questions or comments by email at hello@theMSAG.com. Good luck in your interview!
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