Presumption of willingness “not enough” to boost organ donation, Oireachtas committee is told
Best way to increase donation rates is use of “organ donor co-ordinators” in hospitals, says Irish Kidney Association
Joe Brolly: “The point of this is to make sure we have a fit-for-purpose organ donation system which works.”
Government plans to change the organ donation system so all individuals are presumed to be willing donors unless they opt out will not on its own be sufficient to raise donor rates, an Oireachtas committee has been told.
The new plans in the programme for government – currently being considered by Minister for Health James Reilly – must be coupled with new infrastructure and “a network of specialised personnel” in hospitals.
Currently, donors must opt in to the process by signing up as a donor. But changes to the system will mean that everybody would be considered a presumed donor unless they opt out or their next of kin refuses consent.
The overhaul of the system – which was discussed at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children yesterday – is designed to address fluctuations in organ donations from year to year.
In 2010 there was almost a record low in the number of donations, while 2011 was a record high.
The Government’s opt-out proposal, however, was dismissed by Irish Kidney Association chief executive Mark Murphy, who said it would not increase donation rates and that anyone of the view that the organ donation and transplant system in Ireland was not working “is simply wrong and misinformed”. He said the best way to increase donation rates was to train and place “organ donor co-ordinators” in hospitals.
Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association chairman Brendan Gilligan said he supported the “opt-out” proposal, but acknowledged the Irish Kidney Association’s position that this must be coupled with “the necessary infrastructure”.
Kidney donor and GAA pundit Joe Brolly told the committee he was “fully supportive” of the “opt-out” proposal.
“The point of this is to make sure we have a fit-for-purpose organ donation system which works,” he said. “It’s just a normal part of the dying process. What this will do is make organ donation the norm in society.”