Ireland needs to get on board with ‘Opt out’ organ donation policy – HAYES
Ireland one of just four countries in EU which doesn’t have ‘Opt-out’ policy – this needs to change says MEP
A common approach needs to be adopted by EU member states with regard to organ donation, Brian Hayes MEP stated, saying that Ireland is just one of four member states in the European Union which operates an ‘opt-in’ system with regard to organ donation.
“As of January 1st, France is the latest country to align its policy with a number of other European countries such as Spain and Austria, where ‘presumed consent’ means that anyone can become a donor of organs and tissues when they die unless they specifically choose not to.
“Currently in Ireland, only those who have given explicit consent for organ donation are potential donors in the unforeseen case of death. Countries that have changed to opt-out systems have seen significant increases in their rates of organ donation. Over a three year period after making the change to opt-out systems, Belgium saw its rate of organ donation increase by 100%.
“Closer to home, Wales introduced an opt-in system in December 2015. It saw an increase of 24% in donors in the first year.
“The rate of organ donation in Ireland is approximately 18 donors per million of population, but this rate lags behind that of Spain, Portugal and Croatia, who are achieving donor rates of up to 30 donors per million population.
“There are in the region of 600 people on transplant lists around the country now. There are also over 2000 people on dialysis, where the only next treatment option is a kidney transplant. This figure has doubled since 2003.
“The Minister for Health is in favour of introducing legislation to change our national policy. Minister Harris intends to bring proposals for legislation before the Oireachtas Health Committee very shortly.
“These proposals include a ‘soft’ opt out approach, which means that next of kin must continue to give their consent to the organ donation of a family member who is a potential organ donor. The donor family are central to the whole process, as they are asked to perform one of life’s most selfless acts at a time of extreme distress. Their wishes must be respected.
“In addition, any new legislation must include provisions for the management of a secure database for those who wish to opt out of organ donation as well as protection for vulnerable people, such as the homeless, mentally incapacitated and those with poor literacy skills.
“The introduction of a national opt-in organ donation policy and legislation could potentially allow for an additional 2-6 organ donors per million of population. The effects of an increase like this are immeasurable for any beneficiary family.”