Ulster Unionist Westminster candidate, Jo-Anne Dobson, has pledged to roll her organ donation ‘opt-out crusade’ throughout the UK if she makes it to the House of Commons in next week’s General Election.
Mrs Dobson, Chairperson of the Stormont All-Party Group on Organ Donation, has worked alongside all politicians at Stormont, introducing Northern Ireland’s first Organ Donation Private Members Bill.
The Bill proposes that everyone is an organ donor unless they decide to opt-out. Wales installs the opt-out system later this year, and Jo-Anne believes that such a system would significantly increase available organs:
“I am hopeful it will succeed throughout Northern Ireland. If I should have it accepted throughout the mainland, the numbers will soar, making so many more available - especially in NI.
“My association with organ donation began 20 years ago when my son, Mark, was diagnosed with kidney failure. Since my election to Stormont, I have worked tirelessly to make a positive change in the law here. The Bill I am proposing - aimed at saving lives by increasing available organs - would move NI from the current opt-in to a new opt-out system.”
Earlier this year, Mrs Dobson met with Luc Colenbie, co-ordinator of Belgium’s transplant strategy, who endorsed her campaign after discussions at the Belgian Health Ministry in Brussels.
“We may speak a different language, but those on the transplant waiting list in Belgium go through the same harrowing experience as those on our waiting lists here in NI,” the Upper Bann candidate said. “When they switched to an opt-out system in 1986 this resulted in a positive change in the public’s perception of organ donation - it is now considered the norm to help save lives after another person dies. This is the positive change we need to bring about across the whole of our UK.”