Due to a shortage of donated organs for transplants, France passed a new law that assumes organs should be donated unless explicit instructions are made otherwise. The law became effective at the start of the new year.
Medical science continues to advance at an ever increasing pace. More and more conditions that would previously have been life-ending, can now be treated and cured. This allows more people to live longer, fuller lives often well past the age of retirement.
However, many new procedures cannot be performed as often as needed due to a lack of donations of the necessary organs.
Every year people all over the world pass away while on waiting lists for organs. Governments around the world, including in the U.S., have sought to address the shortage of organ donations by making it easier for people to express their organ donation wishes should they pass away.
Despite these laws, organ donations continue to lag far behind the demand for organs.
In response to this situation, France passed a new law requiring people to opt-out if they do not wish to have their organs donated. According to the Guardian in "France introduces opt-out policy on organ donation," to opt-out people must either register an official refusal with the government or leave a hand-written note with their next-of-kin.
Families may also make a written declaration at the time of death that the deceased did not wish to have his or her organs donated.
Depending on the effectiveness of this new law and the availability of organs, something similar might someday be tried in the U.S. Until then, elderly people and others should continue to opt-in to organ donation, if they wish.
Reference: Guardian (Jan. 2, 2017) "France introduces opt-out policy on organ donation."