Anger over organ donation bill

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Lisburn UUP Councillors Jenny Palmer and Robbie Butler have challenged the Stormont Health Committee over its failure to pass proposed organ donation legislation .

The two urged the committee “to make the morally correct and humane move and overturn the decision by DUP and Sinn Fein members on the committee to block a major piece of legislation which sought to transform local organ donation laws”.

In a joint statement they said: “Our UUP colleague (Upper Bann MLA) Jo-Anne Dobson’s Bill attempted to move Northern Ireland to a ‘soft opt-out’ system where people would have been considered a willing donor unless they took any one of a number of very simple steps to opt out.

“Such a system is already in place in Wales, and Scotland is now formally considering it.

“The fundamental reason behind the bill was simple; organ donation saves lives and increasing the rate of organ donation would have allowed us to save more lives. It would have significantly increased the number of donations, with families still having had the final say on whether a donation took place or not.

“Despite many years of trying, the number of local people signing up to the organ donor register has not risen beyond the mid 30%, while public support for organ donations stands consistently at around 90%.

“There is significant anger across the charities, patient groups and campaigners at the decision of the DUP and Sinn Fein to block the Bill.

“While a small number of clinicians have changed their position and raised some concerns on the bill, many others remained convinced that the change in law was necessary and they too are deeply angry with the defeat of the bill.

“The decision of the DUP and Sinn Fein to block the bill represents a significant u-turn for both parties . . .”