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Implementing an 'Opt-Out' Organ Donation Policy in England: Ethics and Policy

Society For Applied Philosophy/Wellcome Trust
Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
17 February 2018 - 10am-5pm

The UK Government's Department of Health has launched a consultation on organ donation, seeking the views of individuals and institutions on whether and and how an 'opt-out' policy of presumed consent could work in England.

Given the importance of this proposal and its potential impact on organ and tissue donation in England, the aim of this conference is to facilitate high-quality debate surrounding the proposal's merits and demerits. The event also seeks to encourage thoughtful written responses to the consultation from academics, NGOs, medical professionals and members of the public.

Valuable work has already been undertaken comparing the merits of different systems for organ donation, but very little work has been completed which seeks to discuss the specific philosophical and policy questions posed by opt-out systems and their implementation.

Topics discussed will include:

  • The 'kinds' of organs/tissues to which presumed consent should apply.

  • Whether deemed authorisation could or should be extended to include the removal of organs and tissues for research purposes, as well as transplantation.

  • 'Soft' vs 'hard' opt-out systems, and the role and justification of the family veto in this context.

  • The role and extent of consent in 'opt-out' systems.

  • Altruism, solidarity, and the concept of 'the gift' in organ donation.

  • Practical and theoretical challenges faced when designing organ donation policy with respect to certain demographics such as children, adults with incapacity, religious minorities, individuals without immediate or close family, and hard-to-reach groups (such as the elderly, recent immigrants, people with literacy issues, and those whose first language is not English).

  • Priority setting, and the costs of implementing and maintaining an opt-out system.

Confirmed speakers include Dr Iain Brassington (University of Manchester), Professor John Harris (University of Manchester), Dr Neil Manson (Lancaster University), Professor Janet Radcliffe Richards (University of Oxford), Dr Ben Saunders (University of Southampton), Professor Stephen Wilkinson (Lancaster University), Dr Nicola Williams (Lancaster University) and Katharine Wright (Nuffield Council On Bioethics).

Attendance is free but advance booking is required. Book places online here.