PMB – Organ donation



Dáil Éireann 30 April 2013


I wish to support this motion and want to recognise the fact that much work has already been done on this issue and the Heads of Human Tissue Bill are an at an advanced stage of drafting.  That Bill will deal with the removal, use, storage and disposal of organs and tissues of deceased persons, but will also legislate for consent in relation to the use of organs from a living person for transplantation and research.


The forthcoming Bill will represent a timely transposition of the European Union (Quality and Safety of Human Organs Intended for Transplantation) Regulations into Irish law.  These regulations came into effect in August last and much work has since been done to have the Heads of Bill at their current advanced stage.


The need for such a Bill is apparent on a number of fronts.  The question of retention of tissue from deceased babies arose a number of years ago and safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that any tissue retained is properly consented to.  However, the element of the Bill which relates to tonight’s debate centres on organ donation.


The lack of an opt-out facility in relation to organ donation has resulted in the deaths of many people to date and while the vast majority of people agree with the introduction of this new opt-out facility, there are people who disagree with this and their voices must be listened to properly and their arguments considered.  It is also incredibly important that the new opt-out facility is properly explained to people and widely advertised, as the issue of organic donation only arises in the most difficult and traumatic circumstances.


The number of deceased donors has remained steady over the past ten years, from 76 in 2005, to 93 two years ago.  Advances in medicine have no doubt resulted in an increase in living donors in some cases, but deceased donors remain key to many of the transplants and thus the issue of a person’s consent to organ donation is vital to the success of the organ transplant programme.


I believe that patients awaiting a transplant in Ireland will welcome the EU Action Plan on Organ Donation and the strengthened co-operation that this envisages between member states in the years to 2015 and beyond.


At a national level, we must continue to work to ensure that the forthcoming Human Tissue Bill is brought before the Dáil as soon as is practicable so that this opt-out facility becomes reality and the lives of many people awaiting a transplant are enhanced.