08 Jun Big Noise on Northern Ireland’s Big Hill
NITA Joined BMA to create one loud and strong voice at Northern Ireland’s Political home Stormont.
BMA Northern Ireland debates organ donation soft opt out with Health Minister Edwin Poots. The British Medical Association in Northern Ireland today encouraged the Health Minister to adopt a system of presumed consent for organ donation at a round table discussion held at Parliament Buildings. Speaking at the event the Association’s chair, Dr Paul Darragh said lives would be saved and much suffering alleviated as a result.
“The time has come for the whole of society in Northern Ireland to look seriously at the issues surrounding organ donation. With over 200 people in Northern Ireland waiting on a transplant and only 30% of the population on the donor register we need to address this problem as a matter of urgency.” With less than a third of the population in Northern Ireland on the organ donation register, BMA Northern Ireland believes that a ‘soft’ opt-out option would increase organ donations, by making donation the default position from which people may opt out during their lifetime if they so wish.
Dr Darragh added, “Losing a loved one is a difficult time for any family. It is important that individual’s and family’s wishes on organ donation are taken into consideration following their death. The ‘soft’ opt-out approach will help us deal with the current issue of a shortage of organs for transplants, whilst also retaining sensitivity to the wishes of the potential donor’s relatives.” Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, former GAA player Joe Brolly who donated his kidney to Shane Finnegan and Chair of NI Transplant Association Erica Ferguson, all of whom have had personal experience of organ transplants, participated in the discussion. Erica Ferguson is grateful to have received a liver transplant. She contracted a serious liver condition that immediately put her life in danger, giving her only days to live. “I had 48 hours to live and the first available liver in the whole of Europe had to be given to me, so I went on the international register for a life-saving transplant.”
“If it hadn’t been for that liver I would be dead. I have managed to see my daughter go to university, she was 8 when I got ill, I might not have been here and I might not have seen her grow up – so for a stranger who I never knew and never will to give me the gift of life, show compassion at the worst time in someone’s life, it’s amazing.” Commenting at the BMA event in support of opt out legislation Joe said, “The opt out proposition is very subtle but would deliver a sea change in terms of the numbers of people receiving organs, making a profound impact upon the lives of many families. There are no losers in this.” Shane added, “The presumption, in this system, is that a person wishes to donate unless they opt out but crucially the family will always have the final say enshrining the altruism within organ donation – a sacred gift from one family to another.”