London Event: Implementing an opt-out organ donation policy in England Philosophical and Policy Questions

Date: Saturday 17th February 2018 10.00-17.00

Location: The Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, London

On the 12th December 2017 the UK Department of Health announced a consultation on organ donation seeking the views of individuals and institutions on how and whether a 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 event is to facilitate high-quality debate surrounding the potential merits and demerits of the policy proposal and to encourage the production of thoughtful written responses to the consultation from academics, NGO’s, medical professionals, and members of the public. At this moment in time however, although valuable work has been undertaken regarding the comparative merits of different systems for organ donation, 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 throughout the day will include:

  • The ‘kinds’ of organs/tissues to which presumed consent should apply.
  • Whether deemed authorisation could/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 extent and role of consent in ‘opt-out’ systems for organ donation.
  • 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 both implementing and maintaining an opt out system for organ donation.

Confirmed Speakers Include:
Dr. Iain Brassington (University of Manchester)
Prof. John Harris (University of Manchester)
Dr. Neil Manson (Lancaster University)
Prof. Janet Radcliffe Richards (University of Oxford)
Dr. Ben Saunders (University of Southampton)
Prof. Stephen Wilkinson (Lancaster University)
Dr. Nicola Williams (Lancaster University)
Katharine Wright (Nuffield Council On Bioethics)

Tickets for the workshop, which is free to attend and supported by The Society for Applied Philosophy and The Wellcome Trust are available via Eventbrite:


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