Irish Medical Organisation

Dept of Health Consultation on the Opt-Out System of Consent for Organ Donation

The Irish Medical Organisation is pleased to make a submission on the introduction of an opt-out system of consent for organ donation to the Department of Health and Children as part of consultation activities for the preparation of legislation. The IMO acknowledges that the government intends to change the system of consent to one of opt-out consent and accepts the invitation to submit our views on the practical aspects of introducing a system of opt-out consent for organ donation.

The IMO does not have any major ethical or moral concerns with the introduction of an opt-out model of consent. However, at this time, we stress the importance of information being made available in the public sphere to ensure that more public awareness about organ donation is generated.

If the opt-out system were to be adopted, a secure, central register is essential for recording if individuals are opting out. It should be run independently from those carrying out transplant operations to ensure its integrity. It is not feasible to expect every individual’s family to know their situation in relation to opting-out. As such, a national register is essential.

It is important to acknowledge how vital a sustained public awareness campaign would be. An ongoing media campaign in order to raise public awareness must saturate all areas of society, informing them of the facts and processes of organ donation, along with assurances that their family will be consulted and how to register their objection. Additionally, organ donation awareness should also be introduced into the educational environment, to ensure that adolescents reaching maturity are aware of the process, and to enable them to make an informed choice when they are older. 

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