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Data Donations

In addition to donating their organs upon death, people should also donate their medical data, write three academicians at the Conversation.

The University of Basel's David Shaw and the University of Cologne's Valérie Gross and Thomas Erren argue that though medical data donation might not save an immediate life like organ donation, it is nevertheless valuable and difficult to obtain as, in many places, medical data remains confidential even after death. "But it would be a serious mistake to assume that everyone wants such strict data confidentiality to persist after death," the trio writes. "Just as in life, some people would provide their data for medical research in order to develop new treatments that could help save people's lives."

They propose that countries develop databases of data donors so people can indicate while they are alive whether they want to share their information both currently and upon death. In such a listing, people could also indicate what sorts of studies they are comfortable giving their data to and whether they want to share all or part of their records anonymously.

"Data donation after death should be discussed to avoid data dying along with patients, in turn leading to other deaths by setting back medical science," they add.

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