Full steam ahead for organ donation law shake-up

SUPPORT for a change in organ donation laws is gathering pace across the UK.

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As the Evening Times backs the system of presumed consent for organ donation unless they have indicated that they wish to opt out, Northern Ireland's political leaders have backed proposals for an opt-out system and a public consultation has been launched.

The Welsh Government completed its own consultation on organ donation in January and is proposing to introduce a system of presumed consent in 2015.

Under an opt-out system, people are automatically presumed to have given consent for their organs to be donated after their death, unless they have indicated that they wish to opt out.

The Evening Times is campaigning for a 'soft' opt-out system in Scotland where relatives would still be consulted, similar to Wales.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that they would introduce legislation to set up the new system if the consultation receives a positive response.

The proposals were put forward by Northern Ireland's Health Minister Edwin Poots.

He said that the Northern Ireland Executive had decided to go ahead with its own proposals, after the UK Prime Minister David Cameron indicated to him that there were no plans for a UK-wide system of presumed consent.

It was also reported that the UK Government will not object to a Bill for a system of presumed consent in Wales.

There are approximately 200 people on the active transplant waiting list in Northern Ireland, and 15 people die each year while waiting for a transplant.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the new proposals.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal said: "Humanists do not believe that respect for the dead constitutes any reason to object to allowing deceased humans' organs to be used to help others, except when the deceased has expressed a contrary wish."

" Ideally, we would like to see change across the UK to a system of presumed consent, not only in Northern Ireland and Wales".

Later this month, ministers will consider a petition put forward by the Evening Times, calling for a change to an opt-out system.

Labour MSP Drew Smith is planning to bring forward legislation on presumed consent for organ donation if the Scottish government does not act.

Around 18,000 people have signed our petition calling for a change in the law.

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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