A new French law makes all French citizens automatically organ donors unless they specifically choose to opt out of the program.
The Guardian reports that before 2017, an individual would have to specifically make their wish to donate their organs known by opting into an organ donation plan. If an individual’s preferences were unknown, their family members would be questioned by medical professionals, and in almost one third of cases family members refused to donate the deceased’s organs.
Starting January 1, 2017, however, all French citizens are automatically organ donors unless they add their name to a National Rejection Register. France’s biomedicine agency explained the reasoning behind this on their website, “In the name of national solidarity, the principle of presumed consent was chosen,” reads the website. “The law says that we are all donors of organs and tissues, unless we have expressed our refusal.”
In future deaths, doctors will check the rejection register for the deceased’s name and discuss the issue with the deceased’s family to discover whether or not they ever expressed their will to not have their organs donated. If they are not on the register and with the permission of the family, their organs will be donated.
In the United States, individuals can register to donate organs online or at their local DMV.