By Nick Allen Mirror.co.uk
A review by the Organ Donation Taskforce, commissioned by the government, is expected to report on Monday that the British public is not ready to adopt a system of "presumed consent" under which patients' organs are automatically donated for transplants unless they or their families have explicitly objected.
Gordon Brown has appeared to favour an overhaul of the law, which currently requires people to sign up as donors, and is said to have been hoping the review would recommend presumed consent.
The chief medical officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, said that with an ageing population the demand for organs would only increase and there could also be new possibilities for ovary and pancreatic transplants.
He said: "People are dying, people are suffering and many people are living on a knife-edge of despair waiting for a phone call that never comes.
"My view has always been that we need to act with solidarity, generosity and humanity to give these people a future."
The Organ Donation Taskforce was set up to help increase the number of donors and includes healthcare professionals, lawyers and ethicists.
Its hostility to a change in the law will be welcomed by some patients' groups who are strongly opposed to presumed consent.
Mr Brown himself voted against adopting such a system in 2004 but, earlier this year, indicated he had become more favourably disposed towards it.
He said: "A system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery in the UK and the limits imposed by our current system of consent."
More than 8,000 people in Britain are currently on waiting lists for donor organs and only 3,000 transplants are carried out each year.
But the taskforce believes a presumed consent system would do little to increase the number of life saving transplants.
Its recommendations are not binding on the Government and ministers may still bring new legislation forward to introduce presumed consent.
However, last week, an influential committee of peers also found no "convincing case" for a change.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland, who led an investigation into the supply of donor organs in the EU, said the government's top priority should instead be a restructuring of existing transplant services.
She said there was a "severe shortage" of organs available for transplant in the UK and warned that it was a "serious public health problem".
The UK's level of organ donation is 13.2 donations per million people, substantially behind the EU average of 18.8 and Spain's rate of 34.
However, the committee concluded that the high rate in Spain was down to improved training and organisation, rather than the country's presumed consent law which it adopted in 1979.
In Britain last year 482 people died while awaiting transplants and hundreds of others did so after being removed from the waiting list when they became too ill.
A quarter of the population are registered donors. Strict rules on donors having to give explicit, rather than presumed, consent were set in the Human Tissue Act of 2004 after Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool and the Royal Bristol Infirmary removed thousands of organs from dead children without their parents knowing.
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