Ireland currently operates an opt-in organ donation system, where express consent is required in order to be eligible for organ donation. The Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill 2022 (the Bill) intends to bring Ireland in line with international norms by implementing an opt-out organ donation system. The Bill seeks to reform the principle of consent and provide a legislative basis for considering the views of family members of a potential organ donor.
Organ donation is Ireland is currently unregulated. The Bill proposes to implement two circumstances in which an organ may be donated from a deceased donor:
- The donor has deemed to consent, and their designated family member has no objection, or
- Consent has been provided.
The Bill seeks to introduce a significant change to organ donation, in that a person will be deemed to consent to donation after their death, unless they have registered their objection to organ donation on the Relevant Organ Donation Opt-Out Register. This consent is subject to certain conditions to be considered valid, including the deceased person must have been ordinarily resident in the State for a period of at least 12 months immediately prior to their death, or they must have had the capacity to understand that consent to donation would be deemed in the event of their death.
Where a person has not registered their objection to organ donation, and therefore consent is deemed to have been given, confirmation of no objection is required from a designated family member.
The Bill provides that a designated family member, which can include spouses and civil partners, co-habitants, parents, siblings and close friends, must confirm that they do not have any objection to the donation of their family members organs. Similarly, in circumstances where consent is not deemed for reasons such as residing outside the State, or capacity, a designated family member may provide consent to the donation of their family member’s organs.
The Bill seeks to bring significant changes to organ donation in Ireland, with a view to ultimately increasing the donor pool, with Minister Donnelly remarking that a key priority for the Bill is “to support organ donation and transplantation in Ireland and to make organ donation ‘the norm’ in situations where the opportunity arises.” In 2021, 206 transplants occurred in Ireland, and the Bill aims to provide further certainty and clarity to potential donors, and their families.
For more information on the implications of the proposed legislation, contact a member of our Public, Regulatory & Investigations team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.