Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Health secretary apologises over organ donor error

  • Comment

Health secretary Andy Burnham said he deeply regrets the distress caused to grieving families as it emerged around 800,000 people had their wishes about the use of their organs wrongly recorded due to an error.

An investigation found that 45 people for whom false data was stored have since died.

The NHS is about to contact approximately 20 families who allowed organs to be taken after being misinformed about what consent had previously been given.

Mr Burnham said: “I have asked NHS Blood and Transplant to take immediate steps to identify and contact all affected families. This process is under way and will be completed as quickly as possible.

“I have asked Professor Sir Gordon Duff of Sheffield University to carry out a review to find out why this has happened, prevent mistakes like this being made again and ensure all necessary steps are taken to maintain confidence in the organ donor register.”

The mistake came to light last year when NHS Blood and Transplant wrote letters to new donors thanking them for joining the register, and outlining what they had agreed to donate.

Some of them wrote back complaining that the information was wrong.

In the cases where errors were made, families are believed to have been asked for permission, but their decisions were based on misinformation about the wishes of their relatives.

A spokeswoman for NHS Blood and Transplant said: “We have identified a technical error in recording information on the NHS Organ Donor Register. This only affects those who have registered via the driving licence application form.

“We are still checking our records to ensure that other donors or families have not been similarly affected.

“We sincerely apologise for any distress this may have caused. We can reassure everyone that no organs have been donated without the support of the deceased’s nearest relatives and that no one has been registered as a donor against their wishes.”

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.