Organ donation: 68% support opt-out system, 71% oppose payments to donors

lib dem conf votingLib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

68% support opt-out system for organ donation

Currently England has an opt-in organ donation system, meaning that people’s organs can only be used for transplants after their death if the person has consented (which they do through the NHS organ donation register). Wales is switching to an opt-out system, meaning that everyone’s organs can be used for transplants after their death unless the person has indicated that they do NOT want to be a donor. Which system would you prefer to see?

    28% – An opt-in system (where people have to give consent to donate their organs after their death)

    68% – An opt-out system (where people have to indicate if they do NOT consent to donating their organs after their death)

    3% – Don’t know

Strong support among Lib Dem members for an opt-out organ donation system – more than two-thirds of you prefer it to the current opt-in system. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• If someone is going to be unreasonable enough to refuse consent, they should at least have to declare it.
• People’s organs should revert to the state upon death.
• Seems logical to me; potentially benefiting the majority while affording the minority the right not to participate if they choose – good Liberal principles!
• The state does not own our bodies!
• Slippery slope.
• An opt out is a must.
• Next of kin should have the right to veto, unless the deceased is an adult and has explicitly opted in, in which case no right to veto their wishes. Choice to donate should be legally binding, like a will.
• I also think that the wishes of the donor are paramount, not the wishes of the family, as there have been cases where the family of the deceased prevents donation, despite the deceased being a registered donor.
• People who opt out should go to the back of the queue if they ever need an organ
• We believe in re-cycling, don’t we?
• But the relatives should not have power to over-rule the consent
• An opt out system starts from the presumption the state owns our bodies. No!
• I have been on the donor register for many years and a member of my immediate family has benefitted from a heart transplant. However if we move to an opt out system I will immediately opt out. There is an important principle here which Liberals should be defending. I am absolutely opposed to an opt out system and the Welsh are wrong to impose it.
• People own their own bodies.
• Hands off my organs!
• Family should be consulted after death, with strong objections only being considered to override assumed opt-in
• I’ve been on it for many many years. To me its a complete nonsense for people’s bodies when they’re dead not to be used.
• There is a shortage of organs for transplant so an opt-out approach will save lives.
• I think the switch to ‘opt out’ would be a liberal nudge.
• Human beings harvested for organs routinely is not my idea of a free society. It all depends if people get the information to opt out and I would predict many forgetting. The state does not own my body.
• This would save lives whilst still allowing people to opt out for ethical or religeous reasons
• It’s my body, is a trite slogan, but it is. It is not for harvesting at the say so of the state, even if dead. The quicker we move over to engineered organs developed without the need for a dead donor of some kind the better. And the more likely to happen sooner if minds are concentrated by not being able to take whatever a medic wants. No problem with Next of Kins giving permission even without an opt-in though.
• My mother was a kidney transplant patient. Once she received her new organ, her quality of life improved several thousand percent. But she had to wait for a long time for it, and that was very difficult. Good organs are being cremated and buried every day. It is an appalling waste. If someone has a genuine objection, then they can opt out.
• The Welsh do not have the way forward on this policy – leave it alone.
– providing that a bereaved family would not be pressured to withdraw their refusal to allow transplants.
• It should also be very very clear that relatives should NOT have the right of veto. If someone has opted in (or preferably not opted out) then that decision should be binding.
• My body is my own, and it is not for government to presume, to the disadvantage of the many who for one reason or another, including sloth, inefficiency, superstition or incapacity have not given consent. Failure to sign up might consign you to the bottom of the queue if you need one yourself, though.
• LONG OVERDUE – and why didn’t we have an opt-out system of organ donation rather than that disingenuous opt-out of our (saleable) health records?
• The feelings of relatives would need to be respected
• I cannot see an opt-out system ever working, do we really expect anyone to cart off a body in the face of grieving family members asking, begging, them not to?
• However, I do not see why adults who don’t have a donor card should expect to receive a donated organ. That change could focus minds and expand the register.

71% opposed to allowing payments to organ donors

Would you support or oppose allowing payments to people who donate organs for transplant?

    16% – Support

    71% – Oppose

    13% – Don’t know

There is overwhelming opposition to the idea of allowing payments to people who donate organs for transplant – 7-in-10 oppose it, while less than 1-in-6 support it. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• I would despair of a society where people sold away their health
• I believe Iran is the only country that does this, and is also the only country where the need for kidney transplants is met.
• Enough stories from the USA etc of alcoholics selling a kidney etc to gain income!
• Definition of slippery slope
• Just make donation compulsory.
• Presumably this means live donors? Payments would generate wrong decisions with ongoing problems. If Donor deceased, see no reason why heirs should benefit.
• I would hate to see sink estates becoming organ farms for the rich.
• Much as I support organ donation, I would not want to see poor people donating under pressure to make money.
• This happens in America where the quality of ‘donated’ organs is low
• Part of me thinks whatever increases the supply of organs, where there is consent, is a good thing. But I’m a bit squeamish about where this could lead.
• Poor people might resort to selling organs
• There would be too much temptation for those in financial trouble to risk compromising their own health.
• Allowing this could open those who are in financial hardship to the possibility of selling their organs for cash – which would not be to their benefit.
• We simply cannot have people donating kidneys for payment, because they believe that it would be sufficient to retain a single kidney. If someone wishes to donate a kidney for no payment, that would be fine as far as I am concerned.
• People would be queing up to donate organs after a good press story, and regret what they had done later. Payment would also make the poor very vulnerable.
• They must be free from any persuasion in making a decision to `Save Life’ via organ donation.
• trial it
• Would have to think more carefully about this
• but the whole system needs to be sorted out and in particular we need to end the nonsense where the wishes of an individual are overruled by a relative.
• only really applies to kidneys and lobes of liver. Not risk free, donor insurance should be offered for 10 year period
• Payments for organs from those who are still alive would be exploitative of the poor, and payments could provide perverse incentives.
• This would risk serious abuse.
• I would support recompense of costs; medical bills, childcare etc but not straightforward payment
• I can’t see why organ donation should be different from giving blood although doubtless this present filthy government would like to commercialise that.
• Just no. For goodness sake.
• What’s the problem

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However,’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at
  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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