Soon: Every adult in Netherlands to be an organ donor

The Netherlands has passed a new law making everyone a potential organ donor unless they ‘opt out’ specifically. The law is expected to be implemented in 2020 after approval from King Willem-Alexander. Similar donation laws already exist in Spain, Belgium and France. Regarding this move, My Medical Mantra spoke to the organisations which are tirelessly working to create awareness on organ donation and this step has received a mixed response

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  • As per CNN’s report, a new law would make all adults in the Netherlands organ donors — unless they ‘opt out’ of the system.
  • Every person over 18 who is not registered will receive a letter asking whether they wish to donate their organs. Failure to respond to this letter — or another six weeks later — will result in that person being considered a donor by default. Anyone can change their organ donation status at any time.
  • Organ donation is the need of the hour. There are millions in this country who need an organ for survival. If they get an organ, they can get a new life. Each year, hundreds of people die while waiting for an organ transplant. There is a shortage of organs, and the gap between the number of organs donated and the number of people waiting for a transplant is getting larger.

The estimated requirement of major organs and tissue as available with NOTTO is as under:

Organ/Tissue      Required     Available
Kidney                     200000         8000
Liver                          50000           1500
Heart                          30000           200
Cornea                     100000         25000

Rajesh Shetty, founder of Rebirth an NGO which works for organ donation, said, “The same law should be implemented here. If you take example of Pune district there are around 10,000 hospitals with ICU. There must be around 1 person who becomes brain-dead. But, if you compare the last year’s total it is just 54 organ donations. The ratio between registered recipients and organ donors is around 10,000 to 1. There are 5 states and 2 UT’s that have not opened their account on organ donation. There are hundreds who are dying because of the lack of organ donors.”

Speaking to My Medical Mantra, Lalitha Raghuram, Country Director of MOHAN Foundation explained, “In Dutch and Spain it is not compulsory to register for organ donation,  the system is called opt out which means, if you have not opted out for organ donation which means, the citizens are considered to be the organ donors.  Automatically, one becomes an organ donor if he/she has not opted out. But having said that Spain also when the brain-death occurs they do take the consent of the family.”

She added, “In India, we have ‘opt in’ system. So, if one wants to donate organs, he/she has to register to become an organ donor. Even if he/she registers and becomes brain-dead, as per the law, family’s consent is taken by the hospital before retrieving the organs. So, ‘opt in’ is good at this point of time. Anyway, the consent of the family is taken. Organisations like MOHAN do a lot of public and hospital education. So that in hospitals the doctors know about declaring a person brain-dead and the hospital management are pro organ donation.”

Aarti Gokhale, transplant coordinator ZTCC Pune, said, “India being a democratic country, it is difficult to implement such law. But through alternatives like please form awareness on organ donation should be created. Also, the initiatives of these European countries will help us in spreading more awareness on organ donation.”

Sunaina Singh, CEO of NGO called Organ India said, “There is need to create more awareness on organ donation. For people to opt out from the mandatory organ donation, they should know about organ donation. It is therefore necessary to create more awareness on organ donation.”