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DUP and Sinn Fein have ganged up to kill my organ donor Bill: Jo-Anne Dobson

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 28/01/2016

Jo-Anne Dobson
Jo-Anne Dobson
Joe Brolly
Alastair Ross

An organ donation campaigner has accused the DUP and Sinn Fein of joining up to "kill off" a Bill she spearheaded to change the law in Northern Ireland.

The UUP's Jo-Anne Dobson said she has been "deeply disappointed" after DUP and Sinn Fein members of the Stormont health committee voted against a number of clauses in her Bill yesterday.

Last year Ms Dobson introduced a Private Member's Bill urging a 'soft opt-out' system where people are presumed to be donors unless they state otherwise before their deaths.

This was the latest stage of the process to make the Bill law.

Under the new model, family members would still have the final say on whether organs would be donated.

However, some of Northern Ireland's most senior clinicians had warned the health committee that the Bill was unhelpful and potentially damaging.

Speaking earlier this month, GAA pundit Joe Brolly, who gave a kidney to a friend three years ago, said the Human Transplantation Bill must be simplified.

He described it during an evidence session at Stormont as "total gobbledygook."

"The problem with the Bill as it stands is that it is very confusing," he said.

But he did say it could be saved if a number of amendments were introduced.

"I think that Stephen Hawking couldn't understand this Bill. I mean, I am a lawyer, it's what I do, it is my daily bread. It is impossible to understand," he said.

In January 2014 the DUP's Alastair Ross confirmed he was bringing forward a Private Member's Bill to the Assembly on organ donation for an opt-in system via drivers' licences.

He said he agreed on many issues with Mrs Dobson, but not the new system, which he described as "presumed consent".

That Bill, however, has not been pursued.

In Northern Ireland around 15 people die every year waiting for an organ transplant.

Mrs Dobson, whose son Mark is a kidney donor recipient, said: "This is a missed opportunity to save lives.

"Effectively, the DUP and Sinn Fein have joined forces to kill the Bill."

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