ORGAN DONATION is to be regarded as the norm, and those who do not wish to donate their organs will need to opt-out under legislation that has been proposed by the Minister for Health this morning.
Minister Stephen Donnelly this morning received government approval for the Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill which will, for the first time, provide a national legislative framework for operating donation and transplant services in Ireland.
The system will be a soft opt-out one of consent, whereby a person's organs will be donated upon their death unless, while alive, they have registered their wish not to become an organ donor after death.
Currently, decisions on organ donation are the responsibility of the next-of-kin and assumes that an individual has a desire to donate their organs after their death unless they make a statement of objection to donation.
Under the Bill, the next of kin will continue to be consulted before any action is taken, and the wishes of the deceased will be central to the decision.
It will also legislate for pathways for living organ donation and altruistic donation which it is believed will help to increase the donor pool in Ireland.
Practice and procedures for post-mortems in hospital settings will also be regulated, as will general conditions and regulations for anatomical examination and the public display of bodies after death.
There is currently no legislation governing the public display of bodies.
As a result, the State has no powers to investigate the provenance of bodies on public display and to intervene if required.
The Bill will require that a license be obtained for the public display of bodies after death.
"I am delighted to have secured government approval for the Human Tissue Bill," Minister Donnelly said.
"This is a significant piece of legislation that includes provisions around organ donation and transplantation, post-mortem practice and procedures in hospital settings, anatomical examination, and public display of bodies after death.
"Crucially, the Bill will embed in legislation the idea that consent is the defining principle across all these sensitive areas and will establish a regulatory framework for the conduct of these activities."
The Bill will be published in the coming days and is expected to be brought to the Oireachtas shortly thereafter.