Following an amendment to the Act on Organ Donation adopted by the Icelandic parliament Althingi, in the future a deceased person will be presumed to have consented to cadaveric organ donation unless otherwise indicated. The amendment will take effect on 1 January 2019.
In its Opinion, the Althingi Welfare Committee states that it can be assumed that people will want to help a person in need by donating organs following their death. As a result, it is more natural for legislation to reflect "presumed consent” than “presumed refusal”. Organs cannot be removed for donation if the deceased has expressed his or her opposition to this, or if for other reasons this is considered contrary to his or her will. The opposition of a close relative to organ donation will also be respected, even if the deceased's willingness to donate is established.
The Directorate of Health has a database where people have for many years been able to register their position on organ donation. This arrangement will continue, to enable persons wishing to declare their opposition to organ donation to do so by this means. Should the deceased have declared his or her opposition by other means, e.g. to a close friend or relative, this will also be respected.
The Althingi has repeatedly discussed the need to seek ways to increase the number of cadaveric organ donations. The amendment now adopted is only one step in this direction. A committee set up by the Minister which has discussed the issue also considers it important to increase education and information for the general public and to ensure health professionals receive organised and periodic instruction and training in this area.