Belfast Telegraph

Seven in 10 want organ donation law change, says charity

Everyone would automatically be considered a donor unless they opted out under a system advocated by campaigners.

Fearghal McKinney (British Heart Foundation/PA)
Fearghal McKinney (British Heart Foundation/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Almost seven in 10 people in Northern Ireland want to change the law to make organ donation more likely, a charity has said.

Everyone would automatically be considered a donor unless they opted out under a system advocated by campaigners.

The British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland said the measure would help save lives.

Organ donation registrations are increasing but sadly there is still a shortage of donors Ferghal McKinney

Its head Fearghal McKinney said: “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.

“One person’s decision to donate their organs is a gift that can save and improve the lives of up to nine other people.

“We believe a change in the legislation, along with a strengthened health system and a public information campaign, will lead to more people receiving the gift of a donated organ.”

A poll conducted by the charity showed 69% of people surveyed in Northern Ireland strongly supported or tended to support replacing the current opt-in organ donation system with a soft opt-out system, and 68% would also want any of their organs to be donated after their death.

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

The organisation said its poll results indicated a need for legislative change to help deliver an increase in available organs for donation, better reflect the views of the majority of the population and help shift social norms towards donation and away from refusal.

Mr McKinney added: “Currently, there is an opt-in basis for consent for organ donation here.

“Organ donation registrations are increasing but sadly there is still a shortage of donors.”

As of June 30 2019, there were 133 people waiting for an organ transplant in Northern Ireland, with 16 of them waiting on a new heart.

Mr McKinney said: “We want to see a soft opt-out system introduced here in line with Wales, Scotland and England.

“The cabinet in the Republic of Ireland has approved the drafting of legislation that would introduce a soft opt-out system.

“So, once again, the people here are losing out.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph