Written Answers. - Organ Donor Register.

Cecilia Keaveney

Ceist:

42 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Health whether he will consider the introduction of a national register for organ donors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8805/96]

,Limerick East): The present multi-organ donor card campaign, which is run by the Irish Kidney Association with funding from the health allocation from the national lottery, has been particularly successful in creating public awareness about organ transplantation and encouraging organ donation among the general public. Ireland is practically unique among European countries in that it is essentially self-sufficient in the availability of organs. Because of this, I understand that the transplant community here would be reluctant to change the present voluntary and altruistic character of organ donation as it is felt that this very factor contributes to the existing high rates of organ donation.

The present code of practice concerning organ transplantation is based on the principle of informed consent of donors and/or their next of kin. It is, therefore, considered highly desirable that the relatives of deceased persons whose organs would be suitable for transplantation should be fully involved in the donation process. There have been occasional calls for computerised databases to be maintained of people wishing to make organ donations. However, the cost of maintaining such databases and the likely marginal net benefit would suggest that the present system is working well. I would be reluctant, therefore, to make changes without good reason.