BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) - Argentina's Congress passed a law on Wednesday classifying all citizens as organ donor candidates unless they explicitly reject the idea.
The measure, the first of its kind in Latin America, was introduced to Congress last year by Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and approved unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday after it was passed by the Chamber of Deputies.
Before the new law, only people who expressly volunteered to donate their organs after they died would contribute to organ and tissue transplants.
"This law means more lives will be saved," said Vice President Daniel Scioli, who is also Senate president.
Spain, Austria and Belgium are among the countries with high rates of organ donation that have similar laws.
About 6,000 Argentines are on the waiting list for organ transplants, which averaged fewer than 80 per month during much of last year.
The death rate of patients on the waiting list depends on the organs they need. In the case of kidney failure, dialysis can prolong patients' lives significantly. But the risk of death is higher for people needing liver or heart transplants.
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