Senators want more info about ‘yes unless’ organ register, vote delayed

The Dutch upper house of parliament, or senate. Photo:

The Dutch senate vote on plans to establish a ‘yes unless’ system for donor organs in the Netherlands has been delayed by one week, as senators ask for more information about the bill.

After a full day of debate on Tuesday, senators have asked the bill’s backer, D66 parliamentarian Pia Dijkstra, to provide more information about how the legislation regulates the rights of family members and about the role of doctors.

If the draft bill goes on to become law, everyone in the Netherlands will be considered a donor unless they specifically request to be taken off the list.

The vote on the draft legislation will now take place next week on February 13, and it is still doubtful about whether or not it will win majority support in the 75-seat upper house of parliament.

Research shows that families say no to donation in almost seven out of 10 cases in which a person has not left instructions about their organs. Just 40% of the population have made their wishes plain in the current registration system.


If the bill is passed on February 13, it will come into effect in July 2020 after a major publicity campaign.

‘Everyone has to be reached,’ health minister Bruno Bruins said. ‘We will consult experts to make sure that everyone properly understands the new rules.’

The cost of the campaign is put at €20m and the total cost of implementing the bill will be between €60 and €70, Bruins said. ‘It is up to you if these costs are acceptable,’ the minister told the senate.

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