Public Consultation on the Introduction of an Opt-Out System of Consent for Organ Donation

Currently in Ireland, when a potential organ donor is identified, the deceased person’s family is asked for their consent to allow organ donation to take place. This is known as express consent or an opt-in process to becoming an organ donor. In other words, the choice and the decision to become an organ donor rests with the family of the deceased, including where the deceased person had an organ donor card or had indicated their wish to become an organ donor on their driving licence.

The Government now intends to change this system of consent to one of opt-out consent. What this will mean in practice is that the health professionals involved will not have to actively seek the deceased’s family’s express consent for organ donation. Instead, consent will be deemed unless the person has, while alive, registered his/her wish not to become an organ donor after death. This is known as “opting-out”.

However, it is proposed that, even though consent is deemed, the family will in practice always be consulted prior to removing any organ and if the family objects to the organ donation, the donation will not proceed. This is what is known as a “soft” opt-out system.

The Department wishes to invite interested parties to submit their views on the practical aspects of introducing a system of opt-out consent for organ donation. The Department would be interested to hear your general views but would particularly like your views on the questions included in the consultation document.

Written responses by individuals, groups or organisations are welcome and should be sent by e-mail to: or posted to: Opt-Out Consent Consultation, Department of Health, Room 310, Hawkins House, Hawkins Street, Dublin 2.

Latest date for receipt of responses is Friday, September 20th 2013.

All submissions received will be subject to the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 and may be released in response to a Freedom of Information request.