Denmark is considering a change in its organ donation policy that would automatically add all citizens of legal age to the list of potential donors. Currently, only those who have separately registered for it are considered organ donors. If the change goes through, Danes will have to declare separately if they do not want their organs to be used after their death. This change would bring Denmark in line with many other European countries where it is assumed that the deceased is a potential organ donor unless they have specifically declined during their lifetime.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced the proposed change and stated that its purpose was to increase the number of available organs for transplants. There are currently over 400 Danes on the waiting list for a new organ, and Frederiksen believes that this change would help alleviate some of the shortage. However, she emphasized that people would always have the option to opt out of being an organ donor, and the relatives of the deceased could also choose not to use their organs.
The Danish Ethics Council has recommended against changing current policy on organ donation, stating that individuals’ right to decide about their own body is an essential principle in healthcare. They argue that there are no significant differences in the number of organ donations between countries where people are automatically on the list or not. However, Frederiksen stated that her government does not plan to force its proposal through and instead wants to spark a broader discussion on the matter.
Last year, 113 Danes donated their organs after death, and Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen pointed out that about two-thirds of Danes had already indicated whether they wanted their organs used or not. The government hopes that by making everyone automatically a potential organ donor, it will encourage more people to make a decision about their own body and potentially save lives through increased transplant availability.