Northern Ireland Assembly Bill on organ donation considered

Organ donor card Almost 200 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant in Northern Ireland

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An MLA is consulting on a private member's bill to give people the option to choose to become an organ donor on their driving licences.

Alastair Ross's bill would maintain the current system under which people have to voluntarily express their consent for organ donation.

The DUP member's bill - if brought forward - contrasts with another measure backed by the Ulster Unionist Jo-Anne Dobson.

It favours a "soft opt-out" approach.

Under this, people are presumed to give their consent for donation unless they indicate their objection.

Final wishes

Earlier, the Public Health Agency said people must let their families know what their final wishes are when it comes to donating their organs after death.

A survey by the agency suggests public support for organ donation is high but just 31% of people are registered donors.

Chief executive Eddie Rooney said more work was needed to increase this.

"In Northern Ireland, almost 200 people are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly the chance will come too late for many," he said.

A total of 123 transplants took place in 2012/13 in Northern Ireland, and 190 people were on the transplant waiting list as of March 2013

About 15 people die each year while waiting for a transplant.

Out of the 1,012 people surveyed in June:

  • Eighty four percent supported the idea of organ donation, but support was lower for the idea that everyone should register for organ donation (55%) or that it was unacceptable not to donate your organs (26%);
  • More than a third (36%) were not aware of the Organ Donor Register;
  • Of these people, 29% said they would be likely to sign the register in the future, while 16% said they were unlikely to, or definitely would not;
  • Reasons for not signing the register included: not wanting to donate (35%), having not thought about it (31%), thinking organ donation is against religious beliefs (9%), and being unclear about how to register (5%);
  • Overall, 78% agreed it was important to discuss your donation wishes with your family and/or friends, but only 38% had done this.

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