Organ Donation: Opt In and Opt Out Strategies
Published Online: 17 DEC 2012
Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. All rights reserved.
How to Cite
Saunders, B. 2012. Organ Donation: Opt In and Opt Out Strategies. eLS. .
- Published Online: 17 DEC 2012
Opt-in strategies only take organs from those who have specifically consented to donation, whereas opt-out strategies treat everyone as a willing donor unless they exempt themselves. Both strategies allow individuals (or their next of kin) power to determine what happens to their cadaveric organs; the difference between them is the ‘default’ treatment of someone who has expressed no wish either way. Opt-out strategies are likely to increase donation rates, because those who do not register a preference either way will be treated as donors. Opt-out strategies are often called ‘presumed consent’ and critics contend that this is unjustifiable. In fact, numerous other justifications for such a policy are available, for instance it may be that those who do not opt out thereby tacitly consent to the use of their organs.
Opt-in donation strategies means no one's organs are used without their consent.
Opt-out donation strategies mean that everyone is treated as a donor unless they specifically refuse.
Few countries operate ‘pure’ opt-in or opt-out strategies, because consent is usually sought from next of kin.
It is difficult to measure or predict the effects of a change in policy, but likely that an opt-out strategy will procure more organs than an opt-in strategy.
An opt-out strategy should not be identified with ‘presumed consent’.
There are a variety of possible justifications for an opt-out strategy, including tacit consent and normative consent.
‘Tacit consent’ means that one's consent is implied by one's silence.
Tacit consent does not necessarily meet the conditions of informed consent.
- opt in or opt out;
- organ donation;
- organ procurement;
- organ transplant;
- presumed consent;
- tacit consent