New organ donation laws will mean more “lifesaving operations for people”, the Health Minister has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Once passed, the Human Tissue Bill will mean anyone who does not wish to donate their organs will have to ‘opt out’.
The State will otherwise presume they have the deceased's consent to use their organs.
The bill is being brought before the Dáil today and Minister Donnelly is describing it as a “really important piece of legislation”.
“We have a lot of people in Ireland waiting for organ donation - there’s great work done by our clinicians, about 250 transplants last year,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“Essentially, what this legislation will do, is it will make the donor pool bigger.
“It will mean there are more organs available for lifesaving operations for people.
“So, it’s a very important day.”
Despite this, families will still be asked for their permission ahead of any donation.
“Families will be consulted ahead of any donation and if the next of kin objects or they can’t deal with it because of the tragic situation that they’re in, they can of course opt out,” Minister Donnelly said.
“But what we think will happen - and we’ve seen it happen in other countries - is that in the round, there will be more donors available, they will be more transplant operations possible.”
A soft opt-out system of consent for organ donation was introduced in Wales in 2015; within four years the rate of people donating increased from 58% to 77%.
England introduced an opt-out system in 2020, Scotland in 2021 and Northern Ireland’s will begin one this year.
Main image: Surgeon in protective clothing in clinic before heart transplant with organ donation after transport in a box.