If we want more people in the U.S. to donate organs, we might have to change how we ask

Why take it with. you? (Photo: file404/Shutterstock)
More than 116,000 people are on the waiting list in the U.S. for transplants of hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys and other organs, with an estimated 20 people dying each day waiting for a transplant. Although 95 percent of American adults support organ donation, only 54 percent are signed up as donors.

Some governments are looking for a change in legislation to solve this dilemma by starting from the opposite end of the spectrum: considering everyone an organ donor. Then, the "opt-out" organ donation law would push an individual to either embrace that idea or to remove himself from the organ donation list.

Versions of opt-out organ donation laws exist in more than two dozen European countries, including Spain, Belgium and France.

Lawmakers in the Netherlands approved a similar new law in mid-February. Every person over 18 who isn't already registered as a donor will receive a letter asking if they want to donate their organs after they die. They can indicate yes, no or that a specific person will decide. If they don't respond to the letter or to a second one sent six weeks later, they will be considered organ donors, according to ABC News.

The Dutch Kidney Foundation's director, Tom Oostrom, said the new law means "hundreds of patients will get back their lives and freedom."

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