In a bid to increase the number of organ donors German parliament has amended legislation on organ donations. The new law allows the insurance companies to regularly inquire every German if they want to become a donor.
"We are saying to people, 'every organ donor is someone who saves a life'," Health Minister Daniel Bahr told MPs in the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag.
AdvertisementWith a wide majority, parliamentarians agreed that all over-16 year-olds could be regularly contacted by their health insurer by letter to ask if they were willing to declare themselves ready to donate an organ after their death.
Volker Kauder, who heads the Christian Democrats' parliamentary group, stressed the decision was voluntary and that nobody would face any pressure over their decision.
Germany's 1,350 hospitals that are equipped with intensive care units would also have to appoint an official to oversee possible organ donations.
The German Foundation for Organ Transplants estimates that around 12,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in the country.
The issue of organ donation has been particularly sensitive in Germany since 2010 when a former foreign minister and former challenger to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, donated a kidney to his wife.