A bill under consideration by the House giving driving licence applicants the opportunity to become potential organ donors has been welcomed, particularly by organisations of affected patients.
Presented before the House Committee on Health, it emerged however that the proposal which was prepared by MP and committee chairman Costas Constantinou, requires modifications and improvements in order to address practical problems that arise as well as the need for complete and accurate information to citizens.
The aim of the proposal is to raise awareness on organ donation, increase the number of potential organ donors and introduce an easy process that will raise the issue of potential donors entering the National Register to a large number of persons.
In a written note submitted by the National Bioethics Committee it was stated: "As set out in paragraph 1 wherein the applicant for a driving licence will be required to respond positively or negatively whether he or she wishes to be organ donor, it raises the question whether one is far from consent (because the answer should be mandatory and without the applicant being previously fully informed on the matter)."
According to the Committee, all this is contrary to the principles of bioethics where consent is given by individuals and proceeded by full information.
It also notes that this proposal should contain the full text of the consent form the applicant will be invited to sign, that he or she accepts to become an organ donor in the event of death while being given an option to withdraw consent at any later stage.
Before voting or the application of the proposed amended Act, the following, according to the National Bioethics Committee, should be clarified: a) determine the knowledge and attitude of the public on organ donors through a scientific study, b) if it appears from the study that further information and public information is required, then a special campaign in the regard for public information should be made, c) it would be appropriate, in the implementation of such a law, that while the applicant completes the form for a driving licence and will decide whether or not to become organ donor, he or she is simultaneously given a relevant information newsletter.
Senior counsel for the Republic, Rena Petridou, said there should be a separate form clarifying that it has no bearing on one's driving licence and stressed the need to proceed with a broad public dialogue.
She also noted that there should be the same administrative procedure for withdrawal (which should not be limited in time) of the applicant's decision to be organ donor, just as for the consent to be a donor.
The Potential Donor Registry should also be promptly informed. According to Petrides the prior information of citizens is essential and stressed that if rash actions are taken, the results might not be the ones expected.