Opt-out organ donation will save lives

By June Shannon Policy News   |   3rd May 2019

Step towards an opt-out system for consent for organ donation is welcome

The Irish Heart Foundation has warmly welcomed the move towards an opt-out system for consent for organ donation as indicated by the publication of the general scheme of the Human Tissue bill yesterday (Thursday 02 May 2019).

The new proposed legislation includes provision for the introduction of an opt-out system of consent for organ donation in Ireland for the first time.

Under this system, it will be presumed that adults have given consent for their organs to be donated after death unless while alive, they have registered their wish not to be an organ donor on the opt-out register.

If a person is on the opt-out register, their next-of-kin will not be approached to discuss organ donation and their organs will not be removed.

If a person is not registered on the opt-out register, the next-of-kin will always be consulted before any organ is removed. If the next-of-kin objects to the donation, then the donation will not proceed.

“ The Irish Heart Foundation warmly welcomes the move towards an opt-out system,"

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy , The Irish Heart Foundation

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “I am really pleased to progress this vital piece of legislation which is a key commitment of mine and of the Government.

“In recent years,” continued the Minister, “significant progress has been made by Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland, the three transplant centres at Beaumont Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital, and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, and my Department to increase the number of transplantations carried out in Ireland.”

“I strongly believe that this opt-out system could transform organ donation in Ireland. In order for it to be most effective, it will be supported by a series of other measures. It is so important we do everything we can to make organ donation the norm in Ireland when people pass away in circumstances where donation is a possibility,” the Minster added.

Speaking at the publication of the general scheme of the bill yesterday, Professor Jim Egan, the Director of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland stated, “The opt-out system is one of a number of measures required to optimise our organ donation rates.”

“The plan is that the legislation will dovetail with awareness campaigns, enhanced infrastructure, training for medical staff and audit, to ensure that all opportunities for transplantation are followed through.”

Echoing Prof Egan’s call for enhanced infrastructure and training, Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation said, “The Irish Heart Foundation warmly welcomes the move towards an opt-out system. There is no doubt this legislation will enable more lives to be saved by increasing the rate of organ donation and thereby ensuring that patients who require organs, and particularly heart transplants, have the best chance of survival. However, progress also needs to be made to deliver the other key components of an effective system – proper infrastructure for organ donation; investment, including in staffing and training and a robust opt out register; and public awareness to encourage a culture of organ donation in society.”

A total of 18 heart transplants were carried out in the Mater Hospital in Dublin in 2018 and there are currently 12 people on the waiting list for a donor heart with some waiting for up to two years.

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consent heart donation heart transplant Human Tissue Bill legislation opt-out organ organ donation

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