Resolving objections to organ donation: legislative initiative in the Federal Council

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Düsseldorf – North Rhine-Westphalia and other federal states want to increase the population’s willingness to donate organs with a legislative initiative in the Federal Council. The bill that the states want to present to the Federal Council on June 14 provides for the introduction of the so-called objection solution to organ donation, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) said today. In principle, every person is considered an organ donor after death, unless they objected to this during their lifetime. Currently, only those who actively agree to a donation are eligible to become organ donors.

“One thing is certain: no one should be forced to donate an organ. But I am of the opinion that we can force people to make a decision for or against,” said Laumann. Although the majority of the population has a positive attitude towards organ donation, there is a huge gap in donated organs, which could ultimately mean the death of many people.

Around 1,800 people in North Rhine-Westphalia alone were waiting for an organ donor, the minister explained. But only 166 people in North Rhine-Westphalia would have donated one or more organs in 2023. Nationwide, around 8,400 people are on the waiting list for a transplant. Last year, however, just 965 people donated nearly 2,900 organs after their deaths.

“I am convinced that there is no shortage of people in Germany who wish to donate organs after their death out of solidarity or charity. But we have a documentation problem”, said the minister. Therefore, a “system change” is necessary. Once the objection is resolved, documentation will be removed from those who wish to donate organs. An objection to organ donation does not need to be justified.

The Bundestag last voted on the procedure for organ donation in 2020 – with a majority in favor of the decision and against resolving the objection. “With the different composition of the Bundestag due to the 2021 elections, a new vote offers the opportunity to finally introduce the resolution of the contradiction – and save more lives,” said Laumann.

According to the current state of affairs, NRW will present the bill to the Federal Council together with Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate and Schleswig-Holstein, the CDU politician said. He hopes for support from other countries after Cabinet and Senate votes are still pending. If the legislative initiative gains a majority in the Bundesrat, the Bundestag will have to deal with it.

Today, the black-red Senate in Berlin also decided to present the bill to the Bundesrat together with the other states. “With the introduction of the objection solution, we can usher in a real change in organ donation,” explained Health Senator Ina Czyborra (SPD). © dpa/aerzteblatt.de

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