Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Full steam ahead for Northern Ireland's new organ donor Bill

Proposal: Jo-Anne Dobson
Proposal: Jo-Anne Dobson

Organ donation could become the norm instead of the exception for Northern Ireland by 2016 if a proposed new law is approved early next year.

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson could bring her Private Member's Bill for a new soft opt-in donation system to the Assembly as early as next January.

The Bill will now be drafted by the Upper Bann Assembly Member following yesterday's report of her public consultation findings to the Assembly's health committee.

Mrs Dobson will take in to account the views and comments from the health committee members and any other organisations which may still have concerns.

Her 16-week consultation findings showed more than 82% of respondents here supported a change in the law to allow for a new system. Written and online responses were received from 1,366 respondents, mostly individuals.

The new law would mean that all adults will be considered as eligible for organ donation unless they chose to opt out. Anyone's decision to opt out would also be kept "absolutely confidential".

Mrs Dobson described the results as "an unstoppable tidal wave of support for change".

She added: "Respondents to the consultation supported the retention of the role of the family, something which I have made central to my Bill. They also supported safeguards for under-18s, vulnerable adults and those not normally resident."

The long-term effect would mean an increased number of organ donations, bringing Northern Ireland into line with other progressive European countries.

Joe Brolly from Opt For Life described the new system as a "complete no-brainer" as he told how typically one organ donor can save between four to five lives.

The issue of donations sparked a wide-ranging debate, with several MLAs revealing themselves to be confirmed potential donors.

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