World

German parliament votes against new system for organ donors

BERLIN — German lawmakers on Thursday rejected a proposal that would have made most people potential organ donors unless they objected, instead backing a less radical plan to tackle a shortage of donor organs.

Doctors in Germany can transplant organs only from people who actively declare their willingness, for example by carrying a donor card or making a living will. More than 1,000 people in the country of 83 million die each year while waiting for transplants, lawmakers say.

Under a new system proposed by Health Minister Jens Spahn and others, most people would automatically have been considered as donors unless they opted out by putting themselves on a register saying they objected — which they could do at any time. Relatives could also tell officials that the deceased made clear they didn’t want to donate.

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After a debate that cut across party lines, Parliament voted 379-292 against the proposal.

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Spahn argued that 22 of 28 European Union nations have similar systems, helping to ensure that “organ donation is not the exception but the rule.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS