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Northern Ireland Solicits Input For New Organ Donor Approach

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The citizens of Northern Ireland are being polled on their opinion regarding a new approach to organ donation.

Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has started a consultation on a draft policy that was created to get families to discuss organ donations, the BBC reports. Dr. Tim Brown, a transplant surgeon, hopes that this move will make it “normal to donate your organs rather than something that people have to think about it.”

Around 42% of people in Northern Ireland are on the NHS Organ Donor Register. This consultation follows a failed bill in Stormont that proposed to put everyone on the organ register with an opt-out option.

The same system is already in place in Wales, and Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland are set to follow. While the bill did not pass, the Northern Ireland Assembly was able to give a mandate to support organ donation.

Brown said that there were two strands to the draft policy. The first is to explore ways that charities, local governments and large companies can cooperate to raise awareness, and the second is aimed at improving healthcare workers’ training.

About 40 to 50 people every year donate organs in the event of their passing. In terms of living donation, we have one of the highest organ donation rates in the world,

Brown said. “We have a very altruistic population who have a very positive attitude to organ donation and we are hoping this will then carry over into the deceased donation field.”

Dr. Paul Glover, who helped draft the policy, explained, “What we are proposing for the first time is an ongoing funded program of coordinated activities which we really believe can build upon the existing positive attitudes of people in Northern Ireland towards organ donation, and ultimately save and improve more lives.”

When someone dies, final consent for organ donation is up to the families. The Department of Health has a target of 80% consent by 2020. The consultation will run for 12 weeks, and the proposal can be viewed on the website.


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