Group calls for transplant opt-out system
Health committee says change would “vastly increase” organ donation rates in Ireland
An all-party group of politicians has called for the introduction of a soft opt-out system for organ donations to replace the current system which requires potential donors to opt in.
The Oireachtas Committee on Health said an opt-out system had the potential to change public attitudes toward organ donation and to “vastly increase” the current rate of donation.
The committee supported the proposal unanimously, despite scepticism from the Irish Kidney Association, which says better resourcing and a focus on skilled transplant co-ordinators in hospitals would be more effective in driving up donation rates.
Committee chairman Jerry Buttimer said introducing an opt-out system would cost about €2 million, equivalent to the savings over a 15-year period from carrying out just three extra kidney transplants.
Mr Buttimer said the current system of expressed consent is used by only a minority of countries in the EU.
“Countries that have changed to an opt-out system have seen significant increases in their rate of organ donation,” he said.
Belgium, for example, had doubled its rate after changing the system.
He stressed that any transition to an opt-out system must be supported by increased investment in essential infrastructure, transplant surgeons and trained support staff.