The potential of legislation on organ donation to increase the supply of donor organs
Objectives The aim of this paper is to assess the possibilities to adapt the 1998 Dutch Organ Donation Act, taking account of fundamental principles such as the right to physical integrity, equitable access to and equal availability of care, and the non-commerciality principle, with a view to increasing the organ supply.Methods In 2008 the Dutch Taskforce on Organ Donation presented several proposals to amend the Act and to increase the supply of organs. This paper describes the proposals to amend the Act and evaluates them by assessing their intrinsic adherence to basic principles and the available evidence that these proposals will indeed increase the organ supply.Results Several proposals could constitute an infringement of fundamental principles of the Act. Moreover, evidence for their impact on the organ supply is lacking. Changing the consent system is possible, as this would not incur legal objections. There are diverging views regarding the impact of consent systems on the organ supply.Conclusions The scope for changing the Act and its impact on organ procurement is at best limited. Relying on legislation alone will possibly not bring much relief, whereas additional policy measures may be more successful.
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