Belfast Telegraph

Joe Brolly gets Lord Mayor pumped up for transplant cycle challenge

By Claire Graham

Joe Brolly is on a crusade to shake up the organ transplant system in Northern Ireland.

He is encouraging everybody to hop onto their bikes for the 'Life Cycle Challenge' on May 18 to raise awareness of proposed changes to the donation system.

Under proposals put forward by Health Minister Edwin Poots, people would be presumed to have given consent for their organs to be donated upon their death, unless they have opted out. "This campaign is a no-brainer," the former GAA star and organ donation activist has said.

He has seen the huge difference organ transplants can make first hand, after donating his own kidney to friend Shane Finnegan last year.

Joe said: "We believe that the majority of people see organ donation as having a positive impact on the hundreds of people who are suffering silently on waiting lists."

The father-of-five donated his kidney to Shane, who has three children of his own, in October.

However, the pair were left devastated when the transplant failed.

Shane, who has been waiting six-and-a-half years for a successful transplant, says this campaign has become their life.

Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson has said the personal sacrifice of Joe Brolly is a powerful message for the Executive.

The final say for organ donation will still remain with the family of the deceased under the proposed legislation.

Those taking part in the cycle include Orla Smyth (33) who has gone on to hold the 400m, 800m and 1500m records in the World Transplant Games.

The First and Deputy First Minister will also peddle the 30-mile route. UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson whose own son, Mark had a transplant in 2009 has put forward the Private Member's Bill.

The chairperson of the All-Party Group on Organ Donation said the first consultation will be in June and the issue will be debated in the chamber in autumn this year.

To take part in the cycle challenge visit

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