Proposed transition to opt-out system for organ donation

A joint Oireachtas Committee, chaired by Mr. Jerry Buttimer, has called for a change in the way Irish citizens are asked to donate our organs, in the hope more organs will be donated.

An opt-out system, instead of an opt-in system, would increase the number of organ donors, according to Mr. Buttimer.

In this way, Irish residents would automatically become donors unless they specifically choose not to, by opting out.

Under the present system, organ donors opt-in by choosing to donate their organs by carrying an organ donor card.

Nevertheless, the Irish Kidney Association does not think an opt-out system will increase donor numbers and would prefer a change in the way organs are obtained.

It expected the public consultation process, initiated by the Department of Health, to debate whether an opt-out system should or should not be introduced, and explained this in their submission.

We have been asking Irish people to donate organs for the past 49 years, said the Irish Kidney Association, and the proposal now is to tell them they can object to organ donation.

A “public awareness campaign for an opt-out system is a much harder proposition to sell to the public, than the informed consent system” and needs careful consideration, it added.

In 2012, three Dublin hospitals carried out 239 organ transplants – 163 kidney, 50 liver, 14 lung, 10 heart and two pancreas.

The total number of donors was 78 deceased and 32 live donors. Notwithstanding, the number of patients on the transplant list was 563, an increase of 35 on 2011 figures


Reporter: Anne Stewart

Camera: Kay Cairns

Production: Jonathan Crean

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