Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, on Monday proposed a bill to tackle a shortage of donor organs with a reform that would make everyone a potential organ donor unless they have expressly “opted-out.”
The organ donation rates are low in Germany since people currently opt in to the registry voluntarily. Last year, there was a backlog of almost 10,000 patients awaiting transplant organs, where there were fewer than 1,000 transplants available, and about 2,000 deaths a year of those who wait in vain.
Under the new rule, everyone is automatically considered as an organ donor, unless they register their opposing wishes explicitly, known as “opting out.” People will be informed multiple times about the new system and the options to opt out. Family members could also revoke consent after a person dies, and doctors would be required to consult with the family before removing any organs in the event a person is declared brain-dead.
“This isn’t compulsory,” said Spahn, backed up his controversial bill. “20 out of 28 European Union countries have similar systems and everything we have tried so far hasn’t led to a rise in donor figures.” The proposal calls for people to be asked more regularly about if they want to be organ donors, and also calls for an online register of donors to replace the current card system.
Germany’s parliament is expected to hold a free vote on the new rules.