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Increasing kidney transplantation in Britain: The importance of donor cards, public opinion and medical practice


  • Lewis, Alan
  • Snell, Martin


The Department of Health and Social Security has recently spent over three-quarters of a million pounds advertising the merits of kidney donor cards. The advertising campaign stresses that carrying signed cards requesting the removal of kidneys and other organs after death both increases the number of kidneys available and increases the number of kidney transplants that actually take place. This paper examines the relative success of the kidney donor card campaign in Britain and the nature of the relationship between a more widespread distribution of donor cards and the frequency of kidney transplantation. This is done in two main ways. (1) Through a review of the evidence detailing public support expressed in the media and from social surveys (including original empirical work conducted at Bath University). (2) By an analysis of previously unpublished statistical evidence made available by the Department of Health and Social Security. The paper concludes that the battle for public sympathy towards kidney donation has largely been won and the kidney donor card campaign has been a success. However these successes perhaps deflect attention away from more important issues in the transplant equation, as the link between card carrying and increased transplantation is neither direct nor simple.

Suggested Citation

  • Lewis, Alan & Snell, Martin, 1986. "Increasing kidney transplantation in Britain: The importance of donor cards, public opinion and medical practice," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 1075-1080, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:22:y:1986:i:10:p:1075-1080

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