Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin urged the Government to accept the recommendations contained within the Health Committee’s report on organ donation.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The Committee’s Report on Organ Donation points the way forward and I urge Minister Reilly to endorse it and move forward for the sake of the many whose lives can be saved and the many whose lives can be enhanced by organ transplant.
“It is part of the Government’s consultative process regarding its proposal to change the current practice of expressed consent or ‘opt-in consent’ to one of ‘opt-out’ consent in relation to organ donation in Ireland.
“Current Sinn Féin policy supports the ‘presumed consent’ or opt-out rather than opt-in system of organ donation. That reflects our desire to meet the need for greatly increased donations and transplants. That desire is shared by all, whatever their views on the best model of consent for organ donation.
“Having said that, debate on organ donation, including at the Health & Children Committee and in the Dáil, has increased knowledge of the issue and there is a new general awareness of the complexity of the opt-in, opt-out scenarios. Clearly, it is far from a black and white choice between opt-in and opt-out.
“We recall the pain inflicted and injustice done to families in the cases where the organs of children were removed without parental knowledge much less consent.
“On this basis, we believe that a complete and comprehensive public consultation should take place on the issue of organ donation.
“We must address all aspects of this issue, most especially the need for greater resources to be devoted to organ transplant by Government. This would result in significant long-term savings for the State but, far more importantly; it would save and enhance more lives.”
Note to the Editor:
Sinn Féin has called on the Irish Government, British Government and Assembly Executive to ensure that:
· The principle of presumed consent, if adopted, would operate only with regard to organs available for donation to other patients and would not extend to reproductive organs, other tissues and organs for research.
· Presumed consent would operate based on the idea that ‘everybody carries a donor card’.
· All persons who have the ability under the current ‘Opt-In’ policy to provide consent shall have the ability to dissent from ‘presumed consent’, i.e. those who are over-16 and with legally recognised mental capacity.
· For children under 16 and those adults lacking legal capacity to consent, the next-of-kin should retain full control over consent, and the Opt-In requirement should remain in place.
· It should be the responsibility of the relevant health bodies to comprehensively inform the public of a presumed consent policy, if adopted, and an information booklet fully outlining the rights of potential donors and their families should be sent to every household and educational institution. This should include the ability to consent/dissent; how to officially register and ‘opt-out’ of donating; the legal position regarding children; how organ donation works; how the new process will work in practice; safeguards that will be put in place to protect the public.
· An all-Ireland National Register on Withholding Consent to Organ Donation should be established. This would be automatically accessible to the organ procurement service/s and managed by the health department/s.