Switzerland votes by default for organ donation | Swiss

Switzerland voted to increase the availability of organ transplants by making everyone a potential donor after death, unless expressly opposed.

The legal change was approved by 60% of voters in a referendum. Under the laws in force, transplants are only possible if the deceased person has consented to it during his lifetime.

Their wishes are often unknown and, in such cases, the decision is left to relatives who, in most cases, opt against organ donation.

At the end of 2021, more than 1,400 patients were waiting for organ transplants in Switzerland, a country of around 8.6 million people.

Last year, 166 deceased people donated their organs in Switzerland, and a total of 484 such organs were transplanted.

But 72 people died in 2021 while waiting on a waiting list for an organ transplant, according to the organization Swisstransplant.

“The public has shown that they are ready to give people who are on the waiting list a chance,” said Swisstransplant director Franz Immer.

In an effort to reduce the backlog, the government and parliament wanted to change the law to a “presumed consent” model, which has already been adopted in a number of other European countries.

According to this system, people who do not wish to become an organ donor after their death must say so explicitly.

Those who did not make their wishes clear would be assumed to be in favour. However, relatives would still have the option of refusing if they know or suspect that the person concerned would have chosen not to donate an organ. In cases where no relative can be contacted, no organs can be removed.

The rules would only apply to people aged 16 and over.

The medical conditions for donation remain the same: only people who have died in a hospital intensive care unit can donate their organs, and two doctors must certify the death.

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