Philip Toscano/PA Wire

NHS acknowledges faith in organ donation process

The NHS have added a new option for when someone joins the organ donor register to state that they have a faith.

The government's recent organ donation consultation in England found that some faith groups felt that their faith and beliefs needed to be more acknowledged when deciding whether to proceed with donation.

The main barrier to organ donation among black and Asian people was the belief that it is against a person's culture or religion.

Therefore, people signing up will now be asked an optional question about whether or not they want their faith or beliefs to be discussed with their family, or anyone else they consider appropriate, such as a faith leader, if the circumstances occurred.

Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister for Inequalities, said: "This important update will give people the confidence that when they register a decision to donate their organs, their beliefs will always be considered. Choosing to donate an organ is and will remain a personal decision and I am delighted that we are making real progress in helping people to make that choice in a way that's right for them."

If a potential donor requests that the NHS speak to their family, a specialist nurse will raise this when they approach their relatives but will not know what particular faith the individual holds.

This information will continue to be gathered through conversations with the family. If queries or concerns relating to faith or belief issues are raised, such as whether burial would be delayed or if any last rites need to be performed, the nurse will identify the best way to enable donation to go ahead in discussion with the family, while respecting any religious or cultural considerations.

The NHS hope that by making the acknowledgement of faith and beliefs an integral part of the registration process, this new declaration will encourage more people with a strong personal faith or beliefs to consider organ donation.

Sally Johnson, interim chief executive for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "Organ donation is supported by all the major religions and belief systems in the UK, but we understand that a person's faith or beliefs can play a role in their decision whether or not to donate their organs.

"We hope this declaration will provide additional reassurance to those who need it and we will see an increase in numbers of people from a wide variety of faiths and cultural backgrounds joining the NHS Organ Donor Register."

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