Oireachtas committee recommends 'opt out' system for organ donation

Tuesday 01 October 2013 22.31
Health Committee Chairman Jerry Buttimer said families could still refuse consent for donation
Health Committee Chairman Jerry Buttimer said families could still refuse consent for donation

The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children is recommending that the Government introduce a soft "opt out" system for organ donation.

If implemented, Ireland will join countries where citizens are presumed to be organ donors unless they say otherwise and opt out of transplantation.

GAA football analyst Joe Brolly was among a number of individuals and groups, including the Irish Kidney Association, the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association and the National Organ Procurement Service, that contributed to a public consultation last April.

Under the proposals, citizens will be presumed to give consent for their organs to be donated, although relatives can refuse the process in the event of a family member's death.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, committee chairman Jerry Buttimer said the unanimous recommendations are designed to increase the number of organs available for transplant.

He said: "It's very difficult for them (families) to make decisions like organ donation. And what we're saying is that at the end of the life of that person if the family says we can't do this, then that's their decision and they cannot give consent."

The Fine Gael TD said the existing "opt in" system has not worked, and that it was imperative that the recommendation was expedited by Government.

Mr Buttimer added that the "opt out" proposals would only work in tandem with increased investment in transplant services, including greater numbers of surgeons and transplant co-ordinators.

He said: "This move in itself will not give the desired increase.

"It requires an attitude change by the public, infrastructure support by Government and it requires investment in the health service."

The committee chairman said he was hopeful the recommendations could be implemented within a couple of months.