Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

'Menu' for organ donors proposed

Groups have called for specialist staff to be appointed in hospitals to deal with families considering donating their loved one's organs

Would-be organ donors should be able to use an online menu to detail what they want offered for transplant on their death, experts have claimed.

Chiefs from Ireland's top organ donation organisations also called for specialist staff to be appointed in hospitals to deal with families considering donating their loved one's organs.

Irish Donor Network chief executive Philip Watts urged the Government to enact a "soft opt-out system" for donors and to introduce infrastructure to support this.

"How are people going to opt out if you don't have a national organ donation registry? You need to have a website so they can opt in, opt out and so on," Mr Watts said. "And also, give them a menu of organs they want to donate. Some people may be happy to donate their kidneys but may not want to donate their lungs."

Irish Kidney Association chief executive Mark Murphy and chairman Martin Doody and Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association chairman Brendan Gilligan also called for a national organ donor registry.

TDs and senators from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children grilled the experts on their thoughts on Government plans to enact a soft opt-out system for organ donors. Currently, people must opt in as donors by carrying organ donor cards.

Under the proposed system, families will be approached on the presumption their loved ones wish to donate, but offered the option to refuse.

The experts said a national organ donation registry was vital, which would support an individual's strong desire to "leave the legacy of life".

"If people are asked to put their name on a registry they will," Mr Doody said. "I think it's a very strong endorsement where you go to a family and say it's not a case your loved one didn't opt out, they actually took the time to go and put their name on a registry. That's where our resources should be going."

According to Mr Murphy, as many as 10 people die every day due to a lack of donated organs. Donor rates in Ireland currently stand at around 20 per every million.

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