Organ donation opt-out plan for Northern Ireland

Joe Brolly

Proposals to introduce a presumed consent system of organ donation in Northern Ireland have been announced.

Stormont’s political leaders have launched a public consultation exercise on the potential change.

The opt-out system would mean people would be presumed to have given consent for their organs to be donated upon their death, unless they have otherwise stated.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were joined by Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots at the City Hospital in Belfast as they announced the consultation exercise.

If the feedback is positive, they said they would move to introduce legislation to deliver the new system.

Also at the announcement was former Gaelic football star Joe Brolly, who has become a high-profile campaigner for organ donation since he donated a kidney to a friend last year.

The Welsh Government is currently pressing to introduce a similar presumed consent model.

Mr Poots said British Prime Minister David Cameron had indicated to him that there were no plans for a UK-wide presumed consent system so the Northern Ireland Executive had decided to push ahead with its own proposal.

“I think there’s a great opportunity out there to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to live a full and healthy life who otherwise wouldn’t and therefore that’s why we want to put this out to public consultation to give feedback on this,” he said.

“If the consultation comes back favourable we’ll look to bring legislation forward.”

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