Organ donor Bill passes first hurdle
Moves to change organ donor legislation in Northern Ireland that could "help save more lives" has taken a step closer to becoming law.
The UUP's Jo-Anne Dobson, who tabled a Private Member's Bill in December 2012, described it as "a momentous day" after years of work as it passed its first legislative stage at the Assembly yesterday.
Despite support for organ donation being high, just 31% of the population are on the organ donor register, and last year 17 people died while waiting on a transplant in Northern Ireland. There are around 200 people currently on the list. To try to improve the numbers, the Private Member's Bill will change legislation to a 'soft opt out' option.
The proposed change would mean everyone is regarded to have given consent to be an organ donor after death unless they state otherwise and "opt out".
However, family members will have the final say in consent. Currently Northern Ireland has what is called an 'opt in' process, and people have to sign the register to say they allow their organs to be donated after death.
Ms Dobson, whose son underwent a kidney transplant, said that "time is of the essence" in getting the Bill through the Assembly before the end of its term next March.