Association rejects organ opt-out proposal

Sat, Mar 2, 2013, 00:00

The Irish Kidney Association has rejected proposals by GAA pundit Joe Brolly for the introduction of a soft “opt-out” system for organ donation in the Republic.

Mr Brolly, who donated his kidney last year to a fellow coach – though the transplant was unsuccessful – is campaigning for a system of presumed consent to be introduced, similar to that proposed for Northern Ireland.

He says the existing opt-in system in both parts of Ireland does not work, leading to a chronic shortage of deceased organs. The 10 countries with the highest donor rates are all opt-out jurisdictions, he says.

‘Not advisable’

However, the association says adopting such a system in the Republic is “not advisable” and would make no practical difference to organ donor and transplantation rates.

Chief executive Mark Murphy says that while Mr Brolly’s proposal has much to commend it, it ignores the fact that families will be asked to consent to the donation of a relative’s organs regardless of what system is in place.

He also says Mr Brolly’s plan is based on old statistics, while failing to take account of the fact that many of the organs donated in Northern Ireland go to Scotland for transplantation. “Northern Ireland is part of a very advanced, organised, regulated and well-funded organ donation society. The Republic has much more to do before it should consider any deliberations on organ donor consent.”

He says improving the identification of potential donors in hospitals will increase the Republic’s donation rate, not “tinkering” with the existing system. “The public are not the problem when it comes to organ donation. It is the lack of the required infrastructure.”

The Oireachtas health committee has agreed to his proposal to hold public hearings into the issue in April.