As of last month, there were 13,788 people residing in the Jersey postcode area on the UK Organ Donor Register – about 13 per cent of the population. In comparison, about 30 per cent of the population in the UK have signed up to the register.
Health Minister Andrew Green, who is ‘in favour’ of an opt-out system, has now said that he intends to bring forward a proposition for the States to debate the issue in the early part of 2018. The minister has previously said that a ‘soft opt-out’ system, which assumes consent to organ donation unless family members strongly object, may be the best way of increasing the Island’s registered donors.
A number of European countries have already implemented some sort of opt-out system, including Wales, which brought in the measure in 2015. Scotland is currently considering bringing in the scheme.
Senator Green said: ‘I remain very much in favour of an opt-out system and it’s my intention to work towards the introduction of such a scheme in Jersey.’
Islanders have been asked whether they are in favour of the opt-out system through the Jersey Opinions and Lifestyle Survey – formally the Jersey Annual Social Survey – which was distributed to more than 3,000 homes at random in May.
The results will help decide whether legislation proposals are brought forward.
Neil MacLachlan, a consultant obstetrician at the Hospital, who has campaigned for Islanders to sign up to the organ donor register, welcomed the move from Senator Green and said that an opt-out system should be a positive step towards boosting numbers.
He said: ‘The most important thing is that by having a public debate it will make people think about organ donation and have the discussion with their family.’
The McLachlan family launched the charity the Love Hearts Appeal to raise awareness of organ donation and funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital after Mr McLachlan’s daughter Catherine had a heart transplant when she was 15.