Family consent rates must be focus when providing opt-out system of organ donation, say IKA

The focus must be on improving rates of family consent when providing an opt-out system of organ donation, the Irish Kidney Association has urged.

Health Minister Simon Harris is to publish the general scheme of the Human Tissues Bill that will also provide for an opt-out system of organ donation.

Under the proposed new system it will be presumed that people want to donate their organs unless they explicitly opt-out through an online register or their family declines.

The IKA said it was already clear that the introduction of an opt-out system could not increase the pool of potential donors so the focus needed to be on improving rates of family consent.

It has called for an opt-in register as well as an opt-out register, so instead of asking the family for a decision, the family would be asked to confirm the decision of their loved one.

More specialist nurses for organ donation would be needed and there would have to be a continuous public awareness and education campaign.

The IKA said an annual donor audit should be conducted in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

It also said a "key misconception" was that a person had to have an organ donor card to be considered a potential organ donor.

While the card is an 'ice-breaker' for a family conversation when a potential donor is identified their family is asked for consent for donation anyway.

Meanwhile, the seven patient groups that are members of the Irish Donor Network (IDN) also want the proposed change in organ donor consent to be accompanied by the necessary resources.

Funding will have to be provided for an online registry, an awareness programme, the employment of more specialist organ donation and transplant staff the provision or pre and post-transplant rooms.

Chairperson of the IDN and chief executive of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, Philip Watt, said while most Irish people were willing to donate organs many had not registered their wish or discussed it with their family.

The new system will help to bridge that gap between wishing to do something and actually taking the steps to implement that wish.

The seven patient groups represented by IND are the Alpha One Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, COPD Support Ireland, Cystinosis Ireland, the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association, the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association and the Pulmonary Hypertension Association Ireland.

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