At the beginning of the year France joined Spain, Wales, and Austria by changing their organ donor laws. Where in the past French citizens had to elect to be an organ donor, now they are automatically assumed to be donors. This is unless they register on a National refusal registry list requesting they do not donate their organs. The French refusal site roughly translates as follows:
In France, the law says that we are all presumed to be donors, that is, donors of organs and tissues, unless we have expressed our refusal to be removed in our lifetime.
At the time of death, before considering organ and tissue removal, the medical team will verify that you are not registered on the National Rejection Register. If this is not the case, it will be checked with the relatives that you have not asserted during your lifetime your opposition to the written or oral. In the case of an oral expression, the medical team will ask the relatives to specify the circumstances and to sign the transcription in writing.
Since the beginning of January 2017 only 150,000 people out of a French population of 64 million are registered to refuse organ donation so far.
Similar to leaving a will, people also have the option to write and leave a signed letter with a relative as another way to legally refuse the donation of their organs after death. Even a verbal testimony to a relative could also be used to stop the removal of organs.
The reasoning behind the law change is no doubt because of the long list of people waiting for transplants. The Guardian says that 86,000 people in the EU are currently hoping and waiting for a life line in the form of an organ donation.
Another problem the medical community faces is that even when people have said they will donate, their families veto the removal of organs at the time of death.
It is a sensitive issue and one that I guess many people do not like to think about. However when you die you really cannot use your body anymore. For doctors and patients waiting for an organ this is literally a gift that saves lives.
France’s latest move will hopefully shorten their transplant patient waiting list.
Featured image via YouTube