LEGISLATION providing for a simplified system of organ donation is expected later this year.
It will be the first time the practice of organ donation after death will be addressed in law.
It is being backed by funding of €3m to strengthen the National Organ Donation and Transplantation Office and hire 19 dedicated organ transplant staff in hospitals.
Former Derry football star and GAA pundit Joe Brolly, who has spearheaded the campaign to change the emphasis on organ donation, said the legislation would save "a lot of lives".
Brolly (43) said that the legislation, for which there is cross-party support, would replace the need for a donor card to be checked at the time of death with a system with "a family conversation" in advance.
"It is a system based on family consent. Instead of having to have a donor card, which is a very confusing system, this is a really simple system. The family decides, because it is a gift from the family.
"That reflects the reality that doctors will never take an organ without family consent anyway.
"This system simply says that in future the family makes the decision. And that encourages the most important thing, which is that the family talk about it some time before anything bad happens to anybody."
Mr Brolly stressed that anybody would be free to opt out of donating their organs.
"A very small number of people would then go on a register and say they do not want to be a donor after death, but for 99pc of people the family makes the decision at the hospital. Nothing is presumed," he said.
"Without family consent there can be no organ retrieval."
Mr Brolly was honoured with a Special Recognition Award at the annual conference of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland in Galway.
CFI chief Philip Watt described him as having mounted an unprecedented campaign.
Mr Brolly visited the National Commemorative Garden Circle of Life for Organ Donors, a project spearheaded by Denis and Martina Goggin whose only child Eamonn, died in a car crash, donated his organs.