Values Exchange


10 Jul 2019 362 Respondents
By David Seedhouse
VX Community
Genius (49984 XP)
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Many people are on waiting lists for organ donation but die waiting as not enough organs are made available. A contributing factor is the way consent is given for such donations.

There are two methods of consent: opt -in and opt-out.

An opt in method means that the public have to purposefully decide to be an organ donor and this is usually recorded on the person's Driver Licence. This is how organ donation currently takes place in countries such as New Zealand, UK, Ireland and Australia.

Alternatively an opt-out methods means that by default everyone is considered an organ donor except if an individual specifically does not want to be an donor and can be removed from the donor registry. Countries such as Spain and Austria have this system and tehre have been discussions in the Irish press on the merits of adopting an opt-out system. 

'Opt-out legislative systems dramatically increase effective rates of consent for donation. For example, Germany, which uses an opt-in system, has an organ donation consent rate of 12% among its population, while Austria, a country with a very similar culture and economic development, but which uses an opt-out system, has a consent rate of 99.98%.' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_donation

Clearly there are lots of ethical issues surrounding organ donation revolving around cultural norms, consent, autonomy and rights.

Added to this is the fact that despite individual autonomy a donor's decision may be overridden by the family - who may decide they do not wish for their deceased loved one's organs to be used by others. Other people find the whole discussion around death too uncomfortable. While in theory they would consider being a donor they never actually take the step to make that declaration public and importantly legal.

Should an opt-out method be adopted by more countries? Wouldn't that ensure more people could benefit? Wouldn't that make for a more compassionate world? Or does our obligation to help others stop at time of death? If it is the answer to organ donor waiting lists why don't more countries adopt this method?

What do you think?

Read more about the ethical issues here: roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/should-laws-encourage-organ-donation/

Image source 

Poll originally created by Amanda Lees, AUT University.

It is proposed that in our country all people by default should be organ donors unless they choose to opt out of this system
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