The Netherlands has just passed a law that makes all adults organ donors by default, unless they opt out.
According to CNN, the law was approved by the Dutch Senate on Tuesday in a slim 38-36 vote. It passed the lower house of Parliament two years ago by an even slimmer 75-74 margin.
The law, expected to be implemented in 2020 once approved by King Willem-Alexander, is intended to fix the shortage of organ donations in the Netherlands.
At any one time, there are about 1,100 people waiting for organ donation, according to Jeantine Reiger, communications manager for the Dutch Transplant Foundation.
Basically, everyone over 18 who isn’t already a registered donor will receive a letter asking whether they wish to donate their organs. If they fail to respond within six weeks, the government will consider them a donor by default.
“They will be able to reply: yes, no, my next of kin will decide or a specific person will decide,” Pia Dijkstra, a member of the House of Representatives and drafter of the law, said.
Folks needn’t worry too much about replying “yes”, as they can change their organ donation status at any time, according to the bill.
The law is intended to take the pressure off family members who are often left to decide what happens to their loved one’s organs during the already difficult grieving process.
“When no registration about the donatee is available, the bereaved have to decide on donation of the organs,” Reiger said.
“That is very difficult for them. They are emotionally shaken by the sudden death of their family member.”
Similar laws are in place in Belgium and Spain, where the policy is referred to as “presumed consent.”
In Australia, around 1,400 people are on organ donation waiting lists at any one time. In 2016, 503 deceased organ donors and their families gave 1,447 Aussies a new chance in life.