France has reversed its policy on organ donations so that all people could become donors on their death unless they join an official register to opt out or withdraw from the program.
Before 2017, organs and tissue were considered for donation only if a person made their preference for donation clear. If no wishes were stated, doctors would ask their relatives, who refused in nearly one-third of cases, according to the Guardian.
‘A new law in France makes everyone organ and tissue donors, unless individuals specifically register to withdraw from the program.’
Since Jan. 1, everyone in France is presumed organ and tissue donors unless they add their names to a National Rejection Register.
The new law presumes consent for organs to be removed, even if it goes against the wishes of the family. Until 1 January, when the legislation took effect, unless the person who had died had previously expressed a clear wish for or against donation, doctors were required to consult relatives who, in almost a third of cases, refused.
Those who do not want all or any of their organs to be used must now put their name on a "refusal register" - so far 150,000 people have signed up. The authorities have promised to make it easier for those who wish to refuse by allowing them to join the register online instead of by registered post.
Alternatively, those vehemently opposed to their organs being used can leave a signed document with their next-of-kin or transmit their wish orally to relatives who must make a written declaration of non-consent to doctors at the time of death. The process is explained on the agency's Facebook page.
"In the name of national solidarity, the principle of presumed consent was chosen," France's biomedicine agency wrote on its website. "The law says that we are all donors of organs and tissues, unless we have expressed our refusal."
At the time of death, doctors will ensure an individual was not listed on the National Rejection Register. They will also check with the family to learn if a person ever expressed their oral or written opposition to donating their organs or tissue.