The Malta Independent 30 November 2022, Wednesday
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PN MP pushing for everyone to be an organ donor in an ‘opt-out’ system

Marc Galdes Sunday, 2 October 2022, 10:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Nationalist Party (PN) spokesperson for social housing and poverty, Ivan Bartolo, is seeking a change in the law for organ donations which would make everyone an organ donor unless they “opt-out” of the system.

An “opt-out” system works with everybody automatically being an organ donor. However, if someone wishes to opt out of being an organ donor then they can fill in a form which withdraws them from this responsibility.

Bartolo made this suggestion in an email he sent to Deputy Minister and Minister for Health, Chris Fearne, about whether it would be worth entertaining the idea of implementing this new system.

The topic of organ donation is very close to Bartolo’s heart. Just a couple of years ago he donated his kidney to a total stranger.

Speaking to The Malta Independent on Sunday, Bartolo explained how organ shortages are a worldwide issue. “Thousands of people apply for organ donation, but there are not enough organs to meet the demand,” Bartolo said.

Today the system for organ donation is an “opt-in” system. This means that if someone wishes to become an organ donor, they must submit a signed form which makes them an organ donor.

“Wouldn't it be better if it happens the other way around? If I don't want to donate my organs, then I fill in an ‘opt-out’ form,” Bartolo said.

He said that with an “opt-out” system, more organs will be available for donation. He believes that this system will combat any form of bureaucracy.

He added that he has already spoken to people in the medical sector who said that there are a lot of logistical problems that come with the current opt-in system. This gives rise to bureaucratic issues which are hard to overcome.

Bartolo said he is seeking a new and more efficient system that supports society and saves lives if somebody ever needed an organ.

He was asked whether this system would upset a few people who might feel that their choice not to be an organ donor is being removed. In response, he said that he believes that in people’s daily fast-paced lives, most people do not have the opportunity to even entertain the idea of applying to become an organ donor.

Therefore, with this system, they would automatically become an organ donor. However, they would still possess the autonomy to withdraw from being an organ donor through an “opt-out” form.

He also expressed how the PN is completely backing him in this project.

When asked about the purpose of his email to Dr Fearne, he said that he was seeking support from a professional who could put him in the right direction.

In the phone call he praised  Dr Fearne, who is a political opponent to Bartolo, and said Dr Fearne used to come and visit him while he was in hospital recovering from the procedure to donate one of his kidneys. He said he was confident that Dr Fearne would support him.

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