Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has said that whilst Northern Ireland was once considered a trailblazer on changes to organ donation, it has now “fallen behind to have the most out-dated system in the UK”.
Speaking after the Organ Donation (deemed consent) Bill for England was passed at Parliament, Mr. Beggs said: “Whilst organ donation here continues to have strong public support, unfortunately there remains a shortfall between the number of donors and the actual number of organs needed.
“As a result, each and every year in Northern Ireland, there are people passing away whilst waiting for a transplant. Many are perfectly healthy otherwise so it is total tragedy that these people aren’t surviving long enough to receive the life-saving phone call.
“I fully appreciate that organ donation is an incredibly sensitive issue, especially at times of great grief and sadness. Yet there are countless cases in hospital right across Northern Ireland when people have sadly passed away and their organs aren’t received, simply because the conversation was never had and families understandably just didn’t know what to do.
“Both England and Wales now have a ‘soft opt-out’ system. Scottish MSPs have agreed in principle to introduce new organ donation legislation and the Republic of Ireland is also quickly working its way towards legislating for a new system there.
“With a ‘a soft opt-out’ system, more patients on organ transplant lists will be able to receive life-changing treatment, whilst of course, families who do not want their loved one’s organs to be donated will have their wishes fully respected.
“It’s a scandal that whilst Northern Ireland was once rightly considered a trailblazer on organ donation, because of previous attempts being blocked and no functioning Assembly for over two years to even consider legislative change, we have fallen to the bottom of the list as the only part of the UK not committed to an opt-out system.”