Statement on media coverage

Statement on media coverage about organ donation and women carrying babies diagnosed with non-survivable conditions

In response to a number of media articles implying that women carrying babies with a non-survivable condition will be pressurised into proceeding with their pregnancy in order to donate their babies organs, the British Transplantation Society has issued the following statement

A spokesperson for British Transplantation Society said:

“We echo the key point made by NHS Blood and Transplant that the donation of organs from a baby with a non-survivable condition would only be explored if the expectant parent/s expressed a wish for their child’s organs to be considered for donation. No parent would be put under any pressure to consider this as an option.

The suggestion by the press that the transplant community is in any way complicit in persuading parents of terminal babies to carry them to term simply for the creation of a so-called heartbeat donor is absurd. Only in circumstances in which parent/s have expressed a desire for their child’s organs to be donated would any transplant professionals become aware of or involved in the case. They would then work with the family and their care team to consider transplantation as a possibility and to support the family to make the decision that is right for them. If the parent/s decide to proceed with donation the transplant team’s role is to support this wish, where appropriate, and to ensure the organs are put to the best possible use to help those on the transplant waiting list.

The recent discussion around this issue by transplant professionals at the British Transplantation Society Congress was to consider the outcomes of some cases where organs from small children and babies have been courageously donated by parents and transplanted into someone in need. This will help to ensure that potential donor families can be advised appropriately and sensitively and that donated organs are put to optimal use. The outcomes for those receiving transplants from these young donors are generally very good

As with organ donation more generally, donation in these circumstances can offer some comfort to some families, helping to ensure that something positive comes from the tragic circumstances they are experiencing.”