Monday 19 August 2019

Altruistic organ donations to strangers to be allowed for first time under proposed law

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Damien Eagers
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Damien Eagers

Cormac McQuinn and Eilish O’Regan

PEOPLE who wish to donate an organ to strangers will be able to do so for the first time in under a proposed new law.

The Cabinet has given health minister Simon Harris approval to draft the Human Tissue Bill which also includes a "soft opt-out system" for organ donation.

This means that parts of an adult's body can be used in transplants - unless they have opted out. But families and next of kin can still veto the removal of organs.

The issue of altruistic donations was highlighted in recent days by the case of a Dublin doctor who traveled to Northern Ireland to donate a kidney to help a sick stranger.

Dr Dominick Natin, an occupational physician in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, is one of a handful of altruistic donors who have given a kidney to someone they do not know.

There is no such programme in the Republic, which confines donation of kidneys from people who have died or from living donors of relatives or friends.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced plans to progress Opposition Bills with the goal of getting them passed by the Dail or the Seanad by the Summer recess.

It includes a proposal by Independents4Change TD Clare Daly for the introduction of mandatory inquests following maternity deaths in hospitals.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin's proposed law on creating a new offence for sharing intimate images without consent and so-called 'revenge porn' is also to be fast-tracked.

And proposals to extend unpaid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks put forward by Social Democrats co-leaders Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy are also to be adopted.  

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