New rules for organ donation in Iceland?

Organ donation: opt in or opt out?

Organ donation: opt in or opt out? Photo: Eggert Jóhannesson

A group of government and opposition MPs are proposing changing Iceland’s organ donation system from an ‘opt-in’ to an ‘opt-out’ arrangement.

Organ donation in Iceland (based on legislation dating back to 1991) currently runs on the principle of ‘presumed refusal’, i.e. organs may be removed from the deceased only with the express prior permission of the individual in question or the permission of their next of kin.

This would be reversed under the new proposal, formally moved as a parliamentary bill in the Icelandic Parliament (‘Alþingi’) yesterday.

Should the bill be passed, agreement to organ donation would be assumed, unless there is express indication to the contrary.

As the bill puts it, it would be illegal to “remove organs or organic material from the body of the deceased if they have expressed their opposition to such or if doing so may be deemed for any other reason to be contrary to their will”.

The full text of the bill (in Icelandic) can be found here.

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