Organ campaigner urges law change
A campaigner to make organ donation the norm in Northern Ireland has said he will not rest until positive changes are made in the law.
Joe Brolly, who gave a kidney to friend and fellow GAA coach Shane Finnegan, supports changing the law to an opt-out system of organ donation across Ireland.
They were joined by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at an awareness-raising cycle ride in Belfast.
Former Derry GAA player Mr Brolly said: "We have made great progress in advancing this message with the key stakeholders but Shane and I will not rest until these very positive changes are made. It is very clear that the majority of people in Ireland see organ donation as having a positive impact on hundreds of people who are suffering. With this subtle, but vital, legislative change the numbers of people receiving organs would greatly be increased."
Mr Finnegan received a kidney from the ex-sportsman during an operation at Guys Hospital in London on October 3 but it had to be removed due to medical complications.
The First and Deputy First Minister joined a host of names from the sporting and medical worlds and more than 300 members of the public to take part in the Life Cycle Challenge to raise awareness of a campaign to change the law on organ donation in Ireland.
Mr Brolly and Mr Finnegan organised the 32-mile and 55-mile cycle ride as part of their campaign for change to the law.
They were joined by a host of sporting greats, including former road race champion Paul Kimmage, Irish rugby legends Trevor Ringland and Keith Crossan, Steven McDonnell, John and Tony McEntee of Armagh GAA and the GB & NI Transplant Cycle Team.
Leading medics from throughout Ireland including Dr Paul Glover, head of organ donation in Northern Ireland, and Professor Jim Egan, Ireland's head of organ donation, also attended the event, which is calling for a transformation in organ donation law where the onus is on people to opt out - with families always having the final say.
Mr Brolly added: "The proposition is that in future we will all start out as donors, with those people who for whatever reason do not wish to be a donor registering their objection by opting out confidentially online, but crucially the family will always have the final say. This enshrines the altruism within organ donation - a sacred gift from one family to another."