February 6th, 2013
Northern Ireland’s political leaders have given their support to proposals for an ‘opt-out’ system of organ donation. First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness gave their support to the opt-out campaign at Belfast City Hospital on Tuesday, and a public consultation has been launched on the proposals for the new system. The First Minister and Deputy First Minister said that they would introduce legislation to set up the new system if the consultation receives a positive response. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which supports a soft opt-out system of organ donation, welcomes the new proposals.
Both the UK and the Irish Republic currently operate opt-in systems of organ donation, in which people have to register themselves. However, under a presumed consent or opt-out system, people are automatically presumed to have given consent for their organs to be donated after their death, unless they have indicated that they wish to opt out. The new proposals have been put forward by Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Edwin Poots. This follows the Welsh Government’s recent consultation on organ donation, which finished in January (it was also reported today that the UK Government will not object to a Bill for a system of presumed consent in Wales). Edwin Poots said that the Northern Ireland Executive had decided to go ahead with its own proposals, after the UK Prime Minister David Cameron indicated to him that there were no plans for a UK-wide system of presumed consent.
Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness gave their support to the the opt-out campaign at Belfast City Hospital, where they toured the Regional Nephrology and Transplant Service with former GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) football player Joe Brolly, who became an organ donation campaigner last year after giving a kidney to a friend (the transplant was unsuccessful after medical complications). There are approximately 200 people on the active transplant waiting list in…