Oireachtas Health Committee Urge Opt-Out Organ Donation System

Changing to an opt-out system for organ donation could vastly increase the level of organ donation in Ireland, Chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Jerry Buttimer, has said.

Speaking at the launch of Organ Donation Awareness Week in Cork, Mr Buttimer said: "Under our current system of opt-in organ donation, where an explicit decision to donate must be made, we have a chronic shortage of organs available for donation. In 2011, when up to 300 kidneys were required, only 164 deceased kidney donor transplants were carried out. Even though we have a generous culture of organ donation in Ireland, we rank at just 23rd in European league tables, behind all other countries that have a soft-opt out system. Our current system is not working and I believe a change is needed if we want to help more people who are in need of an organ transplant.

Countries already using the opt-out system have seen a significant increase in their donation rates, the Fine Gael Cork South Central TD highlighted, saying: "Over a three year period after making the change to an opt-out system, Belgium saw its rate of organ donation increase by 100%, while over the same period, Singapore saw an increase of 700%.

"Through my chairmanship of the Health Committee, I have had the opportunity to discuss this issue in detail with people who are directly affected by organ donation. As well as this, the Committee has held two hearings on organ donation, when we heard from a wide range of stakeholders, including organ donors and recipients, medical professionals, support organisations and the Department of Health."


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