Software Glitch Compromises 400K Organ Donor Records

Dennis Faas's picture

When people decide to become an organ donor, they trust that their final wishes will be carried out and in good hands when the day comes. Unfortunately, that may not be the case, as a recently discovered software glitch in Britain has compromised the donation preferences of 444,031 people.

The discrepancies were first discovered back in March 2010 and found to have existed between the organ donation information found on Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agencies (DVLA) application forms and the information recorded in the British Organ Donor Register (ODR).

Twelve-Year-Old Software Glitch Compromises Records

Since 1999, an ODR software glitch has been responsible for a major transcription error when information from the DVLA was entered onto the National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) database (the National Health Service manages the Organ Donor Register). (Source:

Not surprisingly, the NHSBT stopped all data files received from the DVLA as soon as the error was identified.

Upon further investigation, 25 families were found to have been affected by the software glitch, meaning that inaccurate (and often irreversible) final wishes were carried out.

Several Changes Announced for Information Validating

In light of these circumstances, the National Health Service Blood and Transplant promises several changes to their information checking process, including systemic sampling and checking of data against up-to-date personal documents. There is also talk of cross-referencing at certain intervals for an added sense of security.

Other changes include having an external organization come in and carry out regular reviews of any new control systems, while an idea to replace the current Organ Donor Register altogether has also been proposed. (Source:

While these changes are being finalized, the NHSBT has the arduous task of contacting all affected patients to clarify the accuracy of their original organ donation preferences.

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