Proposal to amend the Organ Donation Act (WOD)

Under the existing Organ Donation Act, dating from 1998, all legally capable persons aged 12 years or older can record their preferences regarding organ and tissue donation in the Donorregister. They can choose from four options: give permission (with or without specified exceptions made for any organs or tissues); not give permission; leave the decision to their next of kin, or to a delegated person. In cases where someone did not register his or her choice before death, the next of kin shall decide whether the deceased is a donor or not. On 13 September 2016, the Dutch House of Representatives adopted a draft amendment to the Organ Donation Act. Under this amendment, all persons aged 18 and over will be approached in writing to find out their preferences. If no response has been received after two consecutive letters, that person will then be assumed to have given tacit consent and will be registered as such in the Donorregister, implying that this person’s organs and tissues may be used for transplantation and scientific research. The next of kin may reverse this decision by raising an objection, however. In this case they must provide arguments as to why the deceased would not have wanted to be a donor, even if this was not recorded. The tacit ‘no objection’ registration is therefore different from the explicit ‘yes’ (consent to organ donation). The new law is yet to be adopted by the Senate and therefore not yet in force.