The Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill was set to complete its passage in both Houses of the Oireachtas on Wednesday, February 21, and will then be sent to Uachtarán na hÉireann for signing.

According to Ireland's Department of Health, the Human Tissue Bill introduces a soft opt-out system of consent for organ donation.

Under this system, consent for organ donation will be deemed unless the person has, while alive, registered his/her wish not to become an organ donor after death.

This is a change from the current system where decisions on organ donation are the responsibility of the next-of-kin and assumes that an individual has a desire to donate their organs after their death unless they make a statement of objection to donation.

Although the wishes of the deceased should be central to any decision, families will continue to be consulted as part of a safe and respectful organ donation process.

The Bill further provides a framework for the donation of organs and tissues and cells from living donors including the introduction of a legislative basis for non-directed altruistic living donation.

It is anticipated that these measures will help increase the donor pool in the State and will encourage organ donation to save lives in circumstances where this is possible.

Ahead of the Bill's passage through both Houses of the Oireachtas, Ireland's Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced on Wednesday increased funding of €1.6 million in 2024 for organ donation and transplant services.

The Minister expressed gratitude to all those who contributed to the development and passage of the Bill, including healthcare professionals, patient advocacy groups, legal experts, and members of the Houses.

📢 Landmark Day in @OireachtasNews
✅First ever domestic Organ donation legislation about to pass and be sent to @PresidentIRL
✅new Opt out organ donation register to be implemented.
✅Further funding for organ donation

Pleased to have patients present for this big day

— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) February 21, 2024

Donnelly said on Wednesday: "It has been great to see such cross-party support for the Human Tissue Bill as it progressed through the Houses.

"The passage of this Bill is a meaningful moment for healthcare in Ireland.

"This Bill enshrines respect – respect for the generosity of donors and their families, and respect for the dignity of the deceased."

The Department of Health said the Bill represents a significant step forward in the regulation of human tissue use in Ireland. It provides a robust, transparent, and ethical legal framework for the donation of organs for transplantation, the carrying out of post-mortem examinations, the use of bodies and body parts for anatomical examination and education, and the public display of bodies and body parts.

To support and maximize the outputs from progressing this Programme for Government commitment, the Minister for Health has confirmed the additional €1.6 million of new development funding for services.

This funding will support the implementation of the early phases of the 2024-2026 Organ Donation Transplant Ireland’s (ODTI) Strategic Plan, with the goal of increasing organ availability for transplantation, reducing the existing transplant waiting list of 601 people, funding the expansion of the National Potential Donor Audit (PDA), and promoting organ donation through the implementation of the Human Tissue Bill and a public awareness campaign.

Minister Donnelly said: "Now we turn our attention to the important business of commencing the legislation and increasing opportunities for people waiting for an organ donation.

"The Human Tissue Bill along with the additional €1.6 million funding underlines my commitment to supporting organ donation and transplant services in Ireland. I look forward to the positive impact this will have on the lives of patients waiting for transplants."