Should Australia adopt an 'opt-out' system for organ donation?

Organ donation is currently voluntary in Australia.

Donating an organ after your death could help save a life.

But should your consent be automatically presumed, or is it best to keep it voluntary?

Australia currently has an ‘opt-in’ system, meaning people can’t donate their organs unless they volunteer themselves and sign up to the Australian Organ Donor Register.

In addition, if their family strongly objects following their death – and it’s found to be an informed decision – donation can’t go ahead.

However, as more and more countries call for an ‘opt-out’ system – should Australia do the same?

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An opt-out system would mean everyone is automatically signed up to the register, allowing their organs to be taken following their death, unless they explicitly say otherwise and record an objection.

Read more: Kochie loses it over organ donation bureaucratic review

Countries including Spain, France and Singapore have already switched over to the presumed-consent model, with calls for England to do the same.

A poll on debate.org asked users “should organ donation be made compulsory?” and found 48 per cent of people said “yes”, while 52 per cent voted “no”.


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Many experts have argued a new model could help decrease the number of deaths of people waiting for donations.

Chief executive of  Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation, Allan Turner, supported an opt-out system after his daughter Zaidee died suddenly in 2004 aged seven.

She told her parents she wanted her organs to be donated to help save other kids’ lives before her death – and they went on to save or improve the lives of seven people.

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“We want to break the myth that it’s a scary thing to donate, and if a seven-year-old girl can do it, anyone can,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Read more: Joanna Lumley’s hilarious take on death and organ donation

However, not everyone agrees with this argument.

According to the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA), there’s no evidence that an opt-out system would lead to an increased rate of organ donation.

In fact, the OTA said the key to increasing donation was in “a nationally consistent and coordinated approach to clinical practice reform to maximise identification of potential donors and consent to donation within the hospital system”.

Transplant Australia chief executive Chris Thomas told ABC News previously that “compulsorily acquiring” ran the risk of “turning what is one of the most altruistic acts into a system of mistrust and misunderstanding”.

Do you think Australia should adopt an opt-out service for organ donation? Or do you think it should remain voluntary?