Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Ethics challenge winner 2023-2024. To opt in or opt out. that is the question.pdf (169.95 kB)

Ethics challenge winner 2023-2024. To opt in or opt out: that is the question.

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-04, 15:39 authored by Riya Sharma

Every day, 17 patients die awaiting an organ transplant in the United States. As the demand for organ transplants increases globally, opt-out or presumed consent donation policies have been adopted or considered in many countries that are seeking to expand their organ supply. In such systems, the State presumes that lack of explicit refusal constitutes consent for the transplant of organs and tissues post mortem. Meanwhile, the opt-in organ donation system aims to respect individual autonomy by requiring explicit consent prior to donation. Some countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Austria, Uruguay, and Chile, have already adopted opt-out organ donation policies, while other nations such as Switzerland, Australia, the United States, Romania and Germany are currently considering transitioning to this type of system.

An opt-out donation system was widely regarded as a magic bullet for the organ donation issue. However, is opt-out truly a panacea or does it risk overstepping the bodily autonomy of the deceased and their families? Conversely, does the opt-in model go far enough in addressing the shortage of life-saving organs or does it lead to needless deaths? This analysis will examine the complex ethical tensions between individual choice, physician duties, and public health through the lens of medical ethics principles.



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Published Citation

Sharma R. Ethics challenge winner 2023-2024. To opt in or opt out. that is the question. RCSIsmj. 2024;17(1):6-9

Publication Date



  • Undergraduate Research


RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences


  • Published Version (Version of Record)