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Ireland ranks only 15th out of 28 European countries when it comes to organ donation, despite almost 85 per cent of people in Ireland claiming their willingness to donate their organs, Philip Watt, Chairperson of the Irish Donor Network, has claimed.

The Irish Donor Network has issued its support for the introduction of soft opt-out organ donation in Ireland as part of the forthcoming Human Tissue Bill.

Mr Watt commented on Ireland’s current donation figures: “This clearly needs to change and we need to bridge the gap between people’s intentions and the reality. By way of example, when Belgium changed to an opt-out organ donation system, its rate of organ donation increased by 100 per cent over a three-year period”.

‘Soft opt-out’ organ donation would establish a system whereby patients are presumed to wish to donate their organs, unless they choose to opt out through online registry, or their next of kin should decline.

Mr Watt said: “The Irish Donor Network, which represents seven patient groups, welcomes yesterday’s announcement by Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, that he will consult widely about the new organ donor consent system. The Irish Donor Network notes that consultations on this issue in recent years have shown that most key stakeholders are in favour of this change.

He stressed that the decision will ultimately be given to the families, to ensure that donation “will always remain a precious gift of life to another human being”.

The coalition represents the collective views of the Alpha One Foundation, COPD Support Ireland, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, Cystinosis Ireland, the Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association, the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association and the Irish Pulmonary Hypertension Association.