As of January 1, 2017, France reversed its policy on organ donation. If an individual does not want any of their organs to be used, they must opt-out of organ donation.
An article in The Guardian dated January 2, 2017 explains that there are a few ways one can opt-out of donation in France. One way is by adding one’s name to a “refusal register”. The article indicates that as of the date of the article 150,000 people signed up to the register. According to the Guardian article, “The European Union has highlighted the lack of organs for transplant and the increasing number of patients on waitings lists worldwide. Its figures claim that in 2014, 86,000 people were waiting for organ donations in EU states, Norway and Turkey, and 16 people were dying every day while waiting for a transplant.”
In Ontario, we have an opt-in system. Individuals can sign an organ donor card confirming their wish to donate their organs. They can also register online. Sometimes, individuals express their intention to be an organ donor in their power of attorney for personal care (although in these circumstances it is still recommended that the individual who wishes to be an organ donor also register online to ensure the right people have the information at the right time). Beadonor.ca reports that 30% of Ontarians are registered donors.
Regardless of your opinion on whether the opt-in or opt-out system is more appropriate, it is important that you take a moment to consider what your wishes are with respect to organ donation and have a discussion with your loved ones so that they know what your wishes are. A good time to do this can be when discussing with them your wishes with respect to personal care and treatment decisions. This is often a difficult discussion to have; however, it is a discussion which will not only (hopefully) provide you with peace of mind, but also will make the decision-making process a bit easier for your loved ones. For more information about having this difficult discussion, read my blog, Estate Planning and End of life Decisions: A sometimes difficult conversation.