Switzerland Says ‘Yes’ to Organ Donation by Default - Referendum
Switzerland held a referendum on Monday to decide on amendments to legislation that offered expanded possibilities for organ donation.
Under the current law, organ transplantation is permitted in case of lifetime consent from the deceased. If not documented, the consent to transplant can be obtained from relatives.
In most cases, relatives refuse to give their permission for transplantation. Meanwhile, about 450 people receive organs transplanted from deceased people in Switzerland, and the “supply” in this area is significantly lower than the demand. 1,434 people were waiting for donor organs as of the end of the last year.
Meanwhile, a non-partisan Swiss committee that initiated the referendum believes that the “default donation” decision contradicts the principle of the inviolability of human dignity, claiming that the absence of refusal should not be interpreted as consent. The organizers of the referendum have expressed fears that the amendments to the Swiss federal law on transplantation could lead to the removal of organs from people who did not give their consent and to a crime surge.
According to local media, it will take a few years for Switzerland to switch to the new system. The government is expected to launch a national online registry of donor organs. It is assumed that all residents of Switzerland over 16 years old will have to register and indicate their refusal or consent to organ donation.
Opt-out organ donation policies are widespread in Europe, including countries such as Austria, Belgium, Norway and Spain.
In some countries, including the United States, the consent to donate one's organs after one's death is indicated in a driver's license. Authorities in Germany, where this practice was first introduced in January 2020, register the consent to donate organs on identity cards or passports, and family doctors are allowed to encourage their patients to indicate their permission or refusal to donate organs in a special online registry.