Brits Outraged Over Organ Donation Without Consent

Health secretary apologizes after organs removed without consent
By Marie Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2010 3:14 PM CDT
Brits Outraged Over Organ Donation Without Consent
Physicians in an American operating room. Britain's National Health Service is under fire after the revelation that some organ donors may have had the wrong organs removed.   (PRNewsFoto/Sharp HealthCare)

Computer errors affecting the National Health Service's organ-donor registry led to the removal of organs from 21 people who had not given consent, and the UK health secretary has ordered "a review to find out why this has happened." The error in recording the preferences of 800,000 people was made in 1999, and almost half of the 45 donors who died with incorrect preferences in the system wound up donating organs whose harvesting they hadn't agreed to, the Telegraph reports.

The system allows donors to specify which body parts they will donate, and for what uses—some don't want their tissue used in medical research, for instance. No one who opted not to donate was registered as a donor, the BBC notes. Relatives of the 21 people are being contacted. "This process is under way and will be completed as quickly as possible," health secretary Andy Burnham said. Said the chair of the British Medical Association: "It does erode the public confidence and that's very concerning."
(More organ donation stories.)

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