In Denmark, the government is planning to introduce a significant change to the country’s organ donation laws. The proposed change would automatically make every citizen of legal age an organ donor. This contrasts with the current system, where only individuals who have made the specific decision to register themselves as organ donors are considered for organ donation.
The proposed legislation is not without conditions. If approved, Danish citizens would still have the right to opt-out of the organ donation program. They would need to make a separate declaration stating their unwillingness to donate their organs posthumously.
This new organ donation policy would align Denmark’s laws with those of several other European nations, including Finland. In these countries, every eligible deceased individual is assumed to have consented to organ donation unless there is explicit proof of their refusal during their lifetime.
Denmark’s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, stated that the primary goal of this proposed change is to increase the number of available organs for transplantation procedures.
She stated, “More than 400 Danes are currently on the waiting list for a new organ. Sadly, almost 30 people on this list passed away last year. We aim to prevent these unnecessary deaths by encouraging more people to become organ donors.” These comments were made during an interview with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, DR.
At present, approximately two-thirds of Danish citizens have declared their willingness or unwillingness to donate their organs posthumously. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s Foreign Minister, stresses the importance of increasing this figure.
He stated, “While a vast majority of Danes support organ donation when questioned, many still find it difficult to make a decision. We believe that by automatically including everyone on the donor list, many more people will actively participate.”
The Danish Government has made it clear that everyone would retain the right to remove themselves from the organ donor list. The family members of the deceased would also have the right to prevent the use of their relative’s organs.
Despite the government’s intentions, this proposal faces opposition. The Danish Ethics Council issued a recommendation last year stating that there is no need to alter the current organ donation policy.
The Ethics Council argues that the right to make decisions about one’s body is a fundamental principle of healthcare. Furthermore, several experts have noted that there is no significant difference in the number of organ donations between countries that automatically register their citizens as organ donors and those that do not.
Despite this opposition, the Danish Government asserts that it does not intend to force this proposal through. According to Prime Minister Frederiksen, the goal is to stimulate a widespread discussion on this topic.
To provide some context, last year, 113 Danish citizens donated their organs posthumously.