HC Deb 19 June 1973 vol 858 cc354-5
9. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he is taking to increase the supply of kidneys available for transplant.

Sir K. Joseph

This is fundamentally a question of education and attitudes. It was for this reason that in November we started the kidney donor scheme.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the kidney donor cards introduced by his Department have no legal validity unless they are signed not only by the potential donor but by the next of kin? Will the Secretary of State seek to amend the cards so that in an emergency valuable time is not spent by hospitals searching for the next of kin?

Sir K. Joseph

Quite apart from what the legal position is or may be, I believe it is appropriate to consult the next of kin before kidneys are removed for transplantation.

Mr. Simeons

May I remind my right hon. Friend of the early-day motion which ran for nearly a year in the last Session, in which it was proposed that the wishes of the potential kidney donor should be made known through some form of identity disc which could be worn? Once those wishes had been made known, that would give the matter legal authority and it would then be most unlikely that relatives would wish to countermand the donor's wishes.

Sir K. Joseph

It still remains sensible and humane, whatever the wishes expressed by the next of kin, for the doctor concerned to consult the next of kin before the transplantation takes place. It is, however, vitally important that the next of kin should have been consulted by the potential donor so that the next of kin will be ready for the question and ready to answer it.