A major public health change swept France on New Year’s as new regulations making citizens automatic organ donors unless they specifically choose to opt out through a national database took effect.
The new “opt-out” system is aimed at combating widespread organ shortages and long wait lists for transplants. Previously, French citizens who hadn’t specified whether or not they wanted donate after dying could have their organs’ fate left up to relatives. Now, the responsibility will fall on individuals, and next-of-kin will no longer have carte blanche veto power.
Those who object to donating their organs will have to sign up with a National Register of Refusal or make their intents known through written documents they leave with their families. They can also tell their relatives that they’ve chosen to opt out, and these family members would then have to provide signed documentations to that effect to doctors. About 150,000 people have already signed up for the refusal register, according to The Guardian.