Switzerland Votes in Favor of ‘Presumed Consent’ on Organ Donation

Switzerland has voted in favor of a new “presumed consent” system for organ donations, making everyone a potential donor after death unless they actively chose to opt out.

The legal change from explicit consent to presumed was approved by 60.2% of voters while 39.8% voted against it in a referendum on May 15.

French-speaking southern and western parts of Switzerland voted overwhelmingly in favor of the presumed consent while four smaller German-speaking cantons voted against it, according to Swissinfo.

Under the change, individuals who have not expressed against becoming an organ donor would be assumed to be in favor of donating.

However, relatives can refuse if they know or suspect that the deceased individual would have chosen not to donate.

If a family member cannot be contacted, no organs may be removed.

Also, the medical rules on organ donation will remain the same, with only those who die in a hospital intensive care unit able to become donors.

The rules would only apply to people aged 16 and above.

The government and parliament wanted to change existing laws to a “presumed consent” model in an effort to boost the availability of transplant organs and save lives.

According to Swisstransplant, 72 people died in Switzerland in 2021 while waiting for an organ transplant.

Swisstransplant Director Dr. Franz Immer said they were “relieved” with the vote.

“With this decision, the Swiss electorate shows great humanity and sympathy. In the future, more people will express their will and fewer relatives will be additionally burdened by not knowing in a difficult situation,” Immer said in a statement.

The new law will come into effect in 2021 at the earliest, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

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