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Health MInister Simon Harris and Jim Egan of Organ Donation Transplant Ireland. Leah Farrell/
differing views

Opt-out organ donation plan accused of 'misleading the public'

The plans will be debated at the Oireachtas Health Committee today.

THE GOVERNMENT IS being accused of “misleading the public” over its plans for a change to the organ donation regime.

A new bill which is being examined in the Oireachtas Health Committee today will effectively change nothing, the Irish Kidney Association will tell the meeting.

Under the proposed new opt-out system, a deceased person’s consent to have their organs removed for donation would be presumed unless they had indicated that they did not wish to donate.

A person’s next-of-kin would still be consulted as part of the process, meaning the proposal is considered a ‘soft opt-out system’.

There are differing views on the plans with the Irish Kidney Association among those opposed to the them.

Chief executive Mark Murphy will tell the committee that the bill is: “misleading the public as it implies a change of practice whereas the reality is that it actually stays the same”.

Murphy argues that the current system involving donor cards and apps encourages key conversations among families members and that the worry is that an opt-out system will stop these conversations happening.

“The public will only look at the headlines of this bill and see that if they do not opt-out then they will be considered potential donors – you removed the call to action, you remove the prompt for family conversation,” he will tell the committee.

Other groups are in favour of the proposals with the Irish Donor Network (IDN) saying it has been “campaigning for such a system for many years”.

IDN’s Philip Watt says that a ‘hard opt-out system’, which denies the next of kin a say in donation, was tried in Austria and was not successful.

Despite supporting the bill, the IDN is calling for “necessary resources” to support its implementation. These include more organ retrieval surgeons and a public awareness programme to explain the system and how people can opt out if they wish.

The HSE is also supportive of the bill but will tell today’s meeting that for it to be successful there should be dedicated teams in place that support families through the donation process.

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