The members of the Bundestag reject the decision to object to organ donation. Those affected feel misunderstood.
In the end, when it’s over, Jens Spahn says that this isn’t about winning or losing. For Marius Schaefer, however, it feels very much like a defeat, which he has just witnessed from the Bundestag visitor’s gallery.
The members of the Bundestag voted by name and without parliamentary pressure on the reform of organ donation – and they voted against the draft that Spahn, the CDU health minister, put forward. Against the so-called contradiction solution that everyone is considered a donor, unless he has expressly objected.
Instead, the extended agreement that a group of MPs led by the Green Party politician Annalena Baerbock should apply in future: Citizens should be given information on organ donation on a regular basis, for example when they apply for an identity card or when they are with their family doctor. And they should be able to register in an online register whether they want to be donors or not.
The majority of MPs were on the side of those who should not see a person’s silence as to whether he wants to donate organs or not as a yes. Baerbock said the question was how to save lives. But also to the question: “Who does man belong to? He doesn’t belong to the state, not to society, he only belongs to himself.”
Marius Schaefer calls this decision “a slap in the face”. Many who were waiting for a donor organ would have bet on this day. “I think they’ll see that as a big defeat.” He is wearing a face mask, he must not be infected because he lives with a transplanted organ. However, none that he got from the Eurotransplant waiting list. His parents donated part of their lungs to him, it was the first lung transplant in Germany with a living donation, and it was the last chance of the 19-year-old – he had already been removed from the waiting list for a donor organ, so bad it was around him.
“The right to life should count significantly more than, yes, the right to be buried intact,” says Schaefer. He believed that the contradiction solution was the only way to improve.
Spahn, who in the plenary session was the last speaker in the long debate to advertise this model very decisively, still tries to be optimistic. “I will stick with it, and that gives me confidence that the debate itself is a value in itself.” The large consensus “per organ donation” in the Bundestag is not self-evident and very important. Now he would do everything “also as Federal Minister of Health” so that there would be more donations. The establishment of an online register, advice from general practitioners, there is a lot to do, according to Spahn. “And then in three, four, five years we will see whether something has changed in the situation in Germany.”
In the debate, Spahn had said at the end of his speech, when the Bundestag Vice President was already pushing towards Spahn’s speaking time: “The truth is: the other bill does not change the situation.” Afterwards, in front of the cameras, he added: “I would like to be taught better.”