Push for ‘ opt- out’ or­gans

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - SUE DUN­LEVY

AUS­TRALIANS will have to donate their or­gans when they die un­less they opt out un­der ma­jor changes pro­posed by a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee.

In a bid to stamp out the il­le­gal trade in or­gan do­na­tion, MPs are con­sid­er­ing an “optout” ap­proach.

The opt-out pol­icy means peo­ple are pre­sumed to be or­gan donors un­less they of­fi­cially regis­ter to opt out.

Fed­eral MPs have also rec­om­mended the law be changed so Aus­tralians who have an il­le­gal or­gan trans­plant over­seas are charged with a crime when they re­turn to Aus­tralia.

And they want it to be manda­tory for doc­tors to re­port sus­pi­cions if they be­lieve a pa­tient has had an il­le­gal or­gan trans­plant over­seas.

The Sun­day Tele­graph re­vealed in 2016 how al­most 100 des­per­ate Aus­tralians had travelled over­seas to buy or­gans on the black mar­ket, pay­ing up to $250,000 for a kid­ney trans­plant.

The three-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed how a short­age of or­gans was driv­ing the trade.

A par­lia­men­tary in­quiry wants Aus­tralia to con­sider switch­ing to an opt-out sys­tem un­der which it would be as­sumed you are a donor.

Of the top 10 or­gan do­nat­ing coun­tries in the world, seven have been “opt out” for a num­ber of years, and two more have adopted an opt-out sys­tem in the past year.

Dr He­len Op­dam, na­tional med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Aus­tralian Or­gan and Tis­sue Au­thor­ity, told the com­mit­tee an optout sys­tem was not a “sil­ver bul­let” as it could lead to fam­i­lies not dis­cussing or­gan do­na­tion and sus­pi­cion that peo­ple’s wishes may not be taken into ac­count. How­ever, the com­mit­tee said in­creas­ing the or­gan do­na­tion rate in Aus­tralia would be a highly ef­fec­tive method to re­duce trans­plant tourism as fewer pa­tients would feel the need to seek or­gans from else­where.

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