Belfast Telegraph

British Heart Foundation wants organ donation law switch to soft opt-out option

Mairtin and Daithi MacGabhann
Mairtin and Daithi MacGabhann

By Laura Kelly

Seven out of 10 people in Northern Ireland are in favour of a change in the law on organ donation.

A survey carried out by British Heart Foundation NI showed that 69% of people strongly support replacing the current opt-in organ donation system.

BHF NI has called for the introduction of a soft opt-out system, meaning everyone would automatically be considered an organ donor unless they opt out.

Fearghal McKinney, head of BHF NI, said: "Organ donation registrations are increasing but sadly there is still a shortage of donors.

"Latest figures shows that as of June 30, there were 133 people waiting for an organ transplant in Northern Ireland; 16 of them waiting on a new heart.

"We want to see a soft opt-out system introduced here in line with Wales, Scotland and England. The cabinet in the Republic has also approved the drafting of legislation that would introduce a soft opt-out system.

"So once again the people here are losing out. We are being left behind as the only part of the UK and Ireland that has not made progress on this change in organ donation."

A similar change in the law in Wales in 2015 has resulted in family consent rates increasing from less than 49% to 70%.

To mark Organ Donation Week (September 2-8) three families have made short films with BHF NI to share their experience of the heart transplant journey.

Films have been made by the family of Daithi MacGabhann (2), who needs a heart, and the family of Sophie Guthrie (3) from Newtownabbey, who received a new heart when she was a baby.

The Duncan family from Londonderry has also made a film. Dad Andrew was on the waiting list for a new heart and supported BHF NI's call for a soft opt-out system five years ago, but sadly died waiting for a transplant.

Daithi's father Mairtin said: "Daithi has had numerous heart surgeries since he was born and now his only chance is a heart transplant."

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