Health Minister proposes 'soft opt-out' system for organ donation

Wed, 22/07/2020 - 12:55 -- Editor

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced his intention to hold a consultation on a move towards introducing a soft opt-out system for organ donation in Northern Ireland.

The Minister, who met with the charity Kidney Care UK to discuss a range of issues, confirmed his commitment to progressing the issue of soft opt-out for organ donation and to increase the promotion of organ donation to enable more organs to become available for those who need a transplant.

The Minister said: “Northern Ireland has an excellent record in organ donation and transplantation however more needs to be done to increase the number of organs available for those in need of a transplant.

“While approximately 47% of the Northern Ireland Population are currently on the organ donation register, there are still approximately 112 waiting on a transplant. We must do more to increase the number of donor organs available.

“With many more people willing to consider donating an organ than are actually registered as donors, I have long believed that an opt-out system would be hugely beneficial and ultimately would save lives here.

“It is therefore my intention to consult on policy proposals for the introduction of a soft opt-out system. This would bring us in line with the other countries in the UK. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to discuss their wishes about organ donation with their family and friends.”

Jo-Anne Dobson, Kidney Care UK’s Northern Ireland Ambassador said: “This is a momentous day for the entire kidney and indeed Organ Donation family in Northern Ireland. 

“I thank Minister Swann for his support and for taking this long awaited step on progressing this important issue. Organ Donation is an issue which has and will always remain close to my heart and I am delighted that we have a Health Minister in Northern Ireland who has taken it to his own.” 

“This move will increase the chances of receiving new life for people who are waiting on a transplant - both now and into the future. This is a good announcement and a good day for Organ Donation and Transplantation in Northern Ireland.”

It is anticipated the consultation process will begin in the autumn.