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Harris wants to bring in opt-out organ donation system next year

Health Minister Simon Harris today launched a six-week public consultation on an opt-out organ donation scheme.

Health Simon Harris and Professor Jim Egan, Director of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland outside the Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland in Dublin today.
Health Simon Harris and Professor Jim Egan, Director of Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland outside the Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland in Dublin today.

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris today launched the public consultation process for an opt-out organ donation system for Ireland.

Government approved the heads of the Human Tissue Bill in July.

The minister told reporters today that “it is my aim that organ donation is made the norm in Ireland when people pass away, in circumstances in which donation is a possibility”.

“I am particularly interested in hearing the views of people on ways to increase awareness of organ donation and increase the number of organs donated in this country. Transplantation is a vital life-saving treatment, but it depends on the altruism of others. It is important that we do all we can to increase the number of organs available for transplantation,” he added.

Transplants 

In all, 280 transplants were carried out in 2016 – including a record 50 living kidney donor transplants. There were 35 lung transplants and 15 heart transplants last year.

Up until the end of July this year, a total of 161 organ transplants have taken place.

“We can’t rest on our laurels and we need to move on in this country and put in place best international practice. We know now that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified one of the most effective ways is to have an opt-out system.

“I want to see a situation in this country where organ donation becomes the norm and by actually putting in an opt-out system we are encouraging all of us, as citizens, to have that conversation with our loved ones, with our relatives, to make sure organ donation is the norm,” said Harris.

The minister said that when legislation is being brought forward, there will be a “soft opt-out” clause that will ensure relatives have the final say.

Next of kin

“It is very important that when someone is bereaved that person has final say about what happens with their loved ones remains,” he said, adding that ultimately the family will always have the final say in relation to the next of kin.

The minister said it is his hope that this legislation will become law in 2018.

While the Human Tissue Bill deals with organ donation, it will also implement the key recommendation of the Madden Report on post-mortem practices and procedures.

It recommended that no hospital post-mortem examination should be carried out, and no tissue retained, for any purpose whatsoever without authorisation.

The consultation process will run for six weeks until 9 October. The consultation questionnaire is available online here.

Read: You’ll soon need a public services card to renew your passport>

Read: Daniel O’Donnell and Nathan Carter join forces to help raise funds after Donegal flooding>

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