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Since the introduction of the plastic card licence format in January 2013, code 115 can be displayed, meaning the driver has indicated on the learner permit/driving licence application form that they wish to be a donor.
The CEO of the Irish Kidney Association (IKA) Mr Mark Murphy told the Medical Independent (MI) that this data offered the basis of a registry of people who wish to be organ donors. The IKA believes that a registry of people opting-in should be established in tandem with Government plans to create an opt-out registry.
“The Department [of Health] only want a ‘no’ registry. We think it’s a huge lost opportunity not to establish one that says ‘yes’ also,” Mr Murphy told MI. He added that the data held by the Road Safety Authority (RSA)/Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport could be shared with the Department of Health via statutory instrument.
According to Mr Murphy, the organ donor card had “served its time” but remained the “best [method] we have”. He said a registry that allowed people to record their wish to be a donor was “absolutely the way to go”.
The IKA considers that the ability to show a grieving family that their deceased relative had joined such a registry would be a much stronger position for the Organ Donor Co-ordinator.
In each of the years 2013 to 2017 inclusive, over 200,000 drivers consented to code 115 being entered on their plastic licences (223,234 in 2017; 219,006 in 2016; 203,198 in 2015; 210,125 in 2014; 203,689 in 2013).
However, the percentage of consenting drivers has stayed static, at just under 40 per cent.
A Department of Health spokesperson told MI that under the proposed opt-out system, consent will be deemed unless the person has registered their wish not to be a donor.
However, the next-of-kin will always be consulted before any organ is removed. If the next-of-kin objects, the donation will not proceed.
“The register will be managed by Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI), and general opt-out is envisaged [rather than per organ]. Detailed costings have not yet been done,” said the spokesperson.