3rd October 2013
Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children and Cork South Central Fine Gael TD, Jerry Buttimer, has said that a soft opt-out system in relation to organ donation can increase rates of donation. Deputy Buttimer was commenting following the publication by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children of a report on organ donation. The Committee’s report also concludes that changing to a soft opt-out system also has the potential to change public attitudes toward organ donation.
Committee Chairman, Jerry Buttimer TD said:
“Our current practice of using the opt-in system, or expressed consent, is used by only a small minority of countries in the EU. 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%, while over the same period, Singapore saw an increase of a massive 700%.
“The Joint Committee is strongly of the view that any transition to a soft opt-out system must be supported by increased investment in essential infrastructure, transplant surgeons and trained support staff. Each kidney transplant has the potential to save €680,000 over a 15 year period. A short term investment in our organ donation infrastructure has the potential to deliver real long term savings for our health system, not to mention the long term benefits to the lives of organ recipients. It is vital that in such a new system, the family of the next of kin would always be consulted as this will ensure that the principle that donation is a gift is maintained.”
The report also welcomed the current public consultation on the proposals to change how Ireland operates its systems of organ donation.
Among the report’s other findings are:
- Any transition to a new soft opt-out system should also be accompanied by a significant public awareness campaign prior to such changes taking effect.
- The Joint Committee recommends that any transition to a soft opt-out system will only apply to organs available for donation to other patients and not to reproductive organs, or other organs and tissues for research purposes.
- All persons over 16 years and with legally recognised mental capacity should have the ability to dissent from “presumed consent”. For children under 16 years of age and those lacking the legal capacity to consent, the next of kin should retain full control over consent, and the opt-in requirement should remain in these cases.
- The Joint Committee recommends the establishment of a National Register on Withholding Consent to Organ Donation. This should be automatically accessible to organ procurement services and managed by the health departments.
Read the report here: http://bit.ly/16U38NY