On 15 May 2022, the Swiss electorate will vote on the (organ) Transplantation Act.
Over the past five years, an average of around 450 people in Switzerland have received one or more organs from a deceased person each year. However, the need for organs is much greater.
Currently, a transplant is only possible if the deceased person has consented to the donation during his or her lifetime (opt in). However, the wish of the person concerned is often unknown leaving the decision to relatives, who in the majority of cases, are against organ donation.
To increase patients’ chances of receiving an organ the Federal Council and Parliament want to change the rules regarding organ donation to an opt-out or presumed consent model. Anyone who does not wish to donate their organs must state this during their lifetime. If a person has not objected, it is assumed that they are willing to donate their organs.
However, relatives would remain involved. They could refuse organ donation if they know or suspect that the person concerned would have chosen not to do so. If no relatives can be contacted, no organs may be removed.
However, as sometimes happens 50,000 plus signatures were collected, opening the way for a public vote with the aim of striking down the government’s plan. Those opposed to the planned opt-out model are concerned that organs will be taken from those who are against it and unaware of the need to opt-out, something that would violate the right to self determination and physical integrity.
The Federal Council, Parliament (141 for, 44 against with 11 abstentions) and the Council of States (31 for, 12 against with 1 abstentions) are in favour of moving to a system of opting out.
Recent polls run in early May 2022 show a clear majority (61%) of voters favour the government’s plan with 49% in favour and 12% fairly in favour of it. The only party against it is the UDC/SVP with poll results showing 55% of members reporting a firm “no”.