Organ donation and consent
Sir, – The Department of Health has launched a public consultation process on the introduction of an opt-out system of consent for organ donation. The overwhelming result of the 2009 public consultation on the same subject swayed the then minister for health away from presumed consent.
The proposed new system of consent is no different in practice to the current system. The family has the final say. There is nothing to be gained by this proposed change in the name of the organ consent system. It will simply confuse the public, and suggest the decision to donate has been made for them. In my view, the Irish people generally want to be “asked”, not “told”, what to do. In practice, no country in Europe operates an opt-out system of consent. The higher donation rates we see in countries such as Spain are not as a consequence of law on organ consent. The infrastructures and trained personnel available in the high donor rate countries are what we need.
The lack of organisational leadership, overworked intensive care departments, and the non-existence of trained donor co-ordinators all lead to poor identification rates of potential organ donors and their non-conversion into actual organ donors. What potential organ donors do not need is anyone attempting presumption of their consent to organ donation.
Tweaking the consent system alone will potentially cause more harm than good. – Yours, etc,
Irish Kidney Association,
Donor House, Block 43A,
Park West, Dublin 12.