Page 15 - Support Magazine Autumn 2017
P. 15


                                                                           PUBLIC CONSULTATION PROCESS

           The Government wants to        THE PUBLIC’S INTERACTION WITH ORGAN DONATION
        change the law on consent for
        organ donation to a ‘soft opt-    Currently, the public is encouraged to  to encourage family discussion on the
        out’ system (also commonly        get an organ donor card, the purpose  topic and the reminder, the card,
        called ‘presumed consent’).       of which is to initiate a family     would be absent.
        Essentially, such a ‘change’ in the  discussion about organ donation so   So why create a consent law that
        law would see no change in        that everyone knows each other’s     has already been rejected by those
        practice. During previous public  wishes – hence the space for the     working in intensive care units. An
        and private consultations on the  signature of the next-of-kin. It is not a  argument that changing to a ‘soft opt-
        topic, the medical professionals  legal document and its presence does  out’ position, would help the public to
        directly involved with consent for  not guarantee that organs will be  realise that organ donation should be
        organ donation were unanimous     retrieved in the event of the holder  the norm, is confusing to the IKA.
        that the next-of-kin must be      being identified as a potential donor –  Having a ‘Law’ which involves saying
        consulted in the organ donation   but the card is a reminder to the family  one thing, and the ‘practice’ being
        consent process and that such a   that the potential donor had made a  another thing altogether, would cause
        ‘change’ in the law would not     conscious decision about organ       confusion. ‘Soft opt-out’, in practice,
        see a change in their practices.  donation and final consent is left with  will still be informed consent.
           The 2013 Department of         the family.                             The 2013 document also states
        Health Public Consultation           When a potential organ donor is   “ is intended that, in practice,
        document on the ‘Introduction of  identified the family is approached and  there will be no instance whereby
        an Opt-Out System of Consent      asked for consent for organ retrieval  organ donation would proceed
        for Organ Donation’ gives the     for the purposes of transplantation. If  against the wishes of the next-of-kin
        following description of what     they give consent then organs are    of the deceased.” In other words, the
        ‘Opt-Out’ will mean in practice.  retrieved, if they do not then retrieval  role of the family discussion would still
           If a person does not wish to   does not take place.                 be key in the process. In the recent
        become an organ donor after          The IKA regularly fields media    Organ Donor Awareness Week in the
        death, they will need to          interviews, phone calls, emails and  UK the authorities highlighted the high
        register a formal objection       social media enquiries, as well as   rate of family refusal and the need to
        during their lifetime – a         questions at public awareness talks, in  encourage family discussion to remove
        process known as opting out.      relation to how organ donation works.  uncertainty from the process.
        If, on the other hand, a person   There is a common misconception that    This proposed change now becomes
        wishes to become an organ         an organ donor card must be present  a relabelling or rebranding of consent,
        donor after death, they do not    for organ donation to be considered.  but the product and process will
        need to take any action           This is not the case. The donor card is  remain the same. Be assured that if the
        during their lifetime.            there as a prompt for the family     IKA thought that creating this new
           The deceased’s family or       conversation and as a reminder of the  consent law would increase organ
        next-of-kin will still have an    commitment made. A family can        donation rates, we would support the
        important role to play in the     consent to organ donation even if a  proposal. Similar laws exist throughout
        process of organ donation.        donor card is not present.           the EU and beyond. However, the
        While the next-of-kin will not       Looking at the above explanation of  practice in all EU countries is that
        be required to give their         what an ‘opt-out’ system will mean in  consent for organ donation is sought
        consent to the donation itself,   practice, the only ‘call to action’ for the  from the next-of-kin, and refusal to
        they will be consulted and        public appears to be highlighting the  consent is permitted and observed.
        asked to provide as much          opportunity to register a formal     What is very different in the countries
        information as possible on the    objection to organ donation. The     that have a ‘high rate’ of organ
        person’s medical and social       document indicates a passive role for  donation is the infrastructure and
        history. As stated earlier, it is  those in favour of organ donation;  support services in their health service
        intended that, in practice,       “...a person wishes to become an     for the organ donating process.
        there will be no instance         organ donor after death, they do not  We have a long way to go to improve
        whereby organ donation            need to take any action during their  our infrastructure and process that will
        would proceed against the         lifetime.” This would mean that the  enable us to maximise our organ
        wishes of the next-of-kin of      organ donor card would become        donationcapabilities.
        the deceased.                     obsolete and thereby remove a prompt

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