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NZLS supports deceased organ donor register consideration

01 August 2016

The New Zealand Law Society says it supports further consideration of a register of organ donors.

In a submission on the Ministry of Health discussion document Increasing Rates of Deceased Organ Donation, the Law Society says while tweaking the driving licence regime is a good option for improving the recording of consent, "a tick on the form does not necessarily enable fully informed consent to be given".

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It says there are limitations to focusing only on drivers and a register would apply more broadly and provide a process for properly informed consent.

Section 76 of the Human Tissue Act 2008 provides an enabling provision for establishment of an opt-in register and the law therefore does not need to be changed for such a register, which could be linked to the informed consent provisions in that Act.

"That would require the development of a system to ensure potential donors, while alive, are provided with sufficient information  and choose which organs they wish to donate in which circumstances before being placed on the register, with a simple system to record changes of mind," the Law Society says.

"This could be linked with NHI numbers so that it is easily accessed."

The Law Society says there should be provision of information for people on the the register to share with families so they are aware of donors' views. Families could still override decisions, as clinicians are unlikely to be willing to remove organs in the face of family refusal.

There is a need to engage with Māori and minority groups as they may have fewer options for accessing organs, the submission says.

It also notes that Donation after Circulatory Death should not be introduced in New Zealand without thorough public consultation, as the notion of retrieving organs from a donor who is not brain dead will be offensive to some cultures and religions.

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Last updated on the 1st August 2016