Harris planning organ donation ‘opt-out’ system

Proposals for Human Tissue Bill due before Cabinet in coming weeks, says Minister

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that, ultimately, the final decision about donation will remain with the family of a deceased person. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that, ultimately, the final decision about donation will remain with the family of a deceased person. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Proposals to create an “opt out” system for organ donation will be brought to Cabinet in the coming weeks, according to Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Mr Harris said he planned to ask Government for approval to begin drafting the Human Tissue Bill soon and to have the legislation passed by the end of the year, following a period of consultation over the summer.

The Bill will put in place a system of “presumed consent” for organ donation to replace the current system that requires people to opt in if they wish to make their organs available for transplantation following their death.

Mr Harris said that, ultimately, the final decision about donation will remain with the family of a deceased person.

He was speaking at the opening of the new headquarters of the offices of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland in the historic St George’s Church on Temple Street in Dublin.

ODTI coordinates lifesaving services at the three transplant services in Ireland - the Mater hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital and Beaumont Hospital.

Some 280 organ transplants were carried out last year, the second highest figure on record.

A landmark in Dublin’s north inner city, St George’s was built in 1802 to a design by Francis Johnson, who also designed the GPO.

After falling into decay in the 1980s, it was sold by the Church of Ireland and was used as a theatre and nightclub before a €10 million refurbishment was completed in 2013.