Senator Richard Gordon has filed a bill that aims to create a culture of organ donation among Filipinos.
"Explicit Opt-Out laws have long been among the major interventions used to increase the pool of potential donors in countries such as Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey," Gordon, who is also the Red Cross chairman, said.
He said evidence showed that organ donations in countries practicing the "presumed consent" had sharply increased from 25 percent to 35 percent as compared to countries requiring "explicit consent" to donate their organs.
Gordon said organ donation rates in the country would likely increase once Senate Bill No. 2096 would be passed into law because those who do not register a preference either way would be treated as donors.
Under current laws, donors have to give their explicit consent to donate their organs.
Gordon said an increasing number of Filipinos had been diagnosed with kidney disease or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), the last stage of chronic kidney disease, as a consequence of underlying diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
He said the patients with kidney failure have either to undergo dialysis, which costs as much as P3,000 per session, or kidney transplantation.
Despite the availability of dialysis machines, he said kidney transplantation was still the treatment of choice for ESRD patients because it offered a better-quality life and long term survival. The estimated expectancy post-transplant is 17.19 years as compared to only 5.48 years, if the patient remains on dialysis, he said.
Unlike in other developed countries, Gordon said 95 percent of kidney donors in the Philippines come from living related donors and five percent from deceased donors despite efforts of government and non-governmental organizations to encourage organ donations.
He said the passage of SBN 2096 into law would put a "legal obligation on any citizen to contribute to the system they stand to benefit from."
Under the bill, Filipinos aged 18 and above, who object to the removal of any part or organ from his or her body after death will be required to register his or her objection with the Department of Health-Philippine Network for Organ Sharing (PhilNOS). The DOH-PhilNOS will issue a certification and an opt-out card to the person as proof that his or her objection was duly recorded and registered.
Filipinos who have lost their citizenship and obtained citizenship in another country but are residing in the Philippines may donate their organs by registering their consent with DOH-PhilNOS.
Under the proposed legislation, the DOH-PhilNOS shall establish and maintain a national register of all Filipino citizens and all Filipinos who opted-out not to donate any organ, tissue or cornea after their death. It shall also maintain a national register of all persons who opted-in to donate any organ, tissue or cornea after their death.
The act prohibits the selling and buying of organs as well as prohibits unauthorized persons to remove and/or transplant any organ, tissue or cornea of a person.
Violation of the act includes imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of not less than P1 million but not more than P2 million, according to the bill.
"If a person can be an organ recipient, they should also be able to give an organ and vice versa. This principle is consistent with the view that a fair concept of justice calls for reciprocal altruism," Gordon stressed.