Push for organ donation information to be accessible to healthcare workers

David Kelly

Organ donor information carried on driver licenses is inaccessible to healthcare professionals due to government inaction, according to Fianna Fail.

Senator Mark Daly has called on the Minister for Transport Shane Ross, to allow healthcare professionals to have access to driver license information for organ donations. He said that without this information, potential donors are slipping through the cracks.

“There are around 2.6 million driving licence holders in Ireland at the moment. Since 2013, driving licence applicants have been asked if they would be willing to be an organ donor. However, doctors and medical professionals are currently not allowed to access this information. This means that those involved in the facilitation of organ transplants often miss out on potential
donors,” said Daly.

Minister Ross maintains that this issue is not as important as matters such as Brexit and needs to be examined in detail before a decision is made. Mr Daly refutes this claim and asserts that a simple Ministerial Order is needed to rectify the problem.

Mr Ross has said he wants to hear the views of the HSE on the potential for doctors being able to look up a potential list of organ donors. He also said that under current EU regulations, they need the permission of the applicant to share organ donor information.

“The Government allows driving licence details to be shared with other State bodies such as the Courts Service, the Road Safety Authority and the Health and Safety Authority” said Daly.

“This is an important yet simple change, and I feel the Government’s laissez-faire approach to this issue is not acceptable,” said Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesman Robert Troy.

Over 270 transplants were carried out last year as a result of both deceased and live organ donors, with 81 of those organs donated by families. There are currently around 600 people waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Respective of 30,000 road accidents a year, organ donation is quite rare with an average of 80 multi-organ donations annually. A person is three times more likely to need a transplant than be an organ donor.

Proposed legislation to be reviewed in this quarter, the Human Tissue Bill, will include an “opt-out” approach to organ donation, whereby a deceased person would automatically consent to the donation of their major organs.

Last Saturday marked the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week, which runs until April 6th. Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has launched the week while the Irish Kidney Association is organising the event.

David Kelly

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