Northern Ireland

Organ donation bill: Jo-Anne Dobson disappointed at Stormont opposition

Surgeons
Image caption The bill proposed that everyone would be on the organ donation register unless they opt out

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has said she is disappointed that the Stormont health committee has opposed a number of clauses in her private members' bill on organ donation.

The bill proposed that everyone would be on the organ donation register unless they opted out.

Ms Dobson has accused Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of joining together to effectively kill off the bill.

She said it was a "missed opportunity".

"They have gutted it and left nothing of the bill intact," she said.

"I am not disappointed for me, I am disappointed for the army of volunteers, those people who are waiting for an organ out there, the hope they had that finally this assembly would deliver a good news story to make something happen to save lives."

Image caption Jo-Anne Dobson called the move a 'missed opportunity'

DUP MLA Alastair Ross said the committee had listened to a number of medical experts in relation to the issue.

"I think what has happened is the health committee has had the opportunity to speak to the experts and examine the evidence," he added.

"Having done that, they have come to the same conclusion that I did over three years ago, that it is unnecessary and potentially counter-productive.

'Robust'

"I think out of all of this we need to listen to the clinicians who are working in transplant, who are working in organ donation and when they tell us that they don't want a bill like this we have to listen to them."

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said "robust legislation" was needed to increase the number of organ donors.

"All parties are committed to increasing the availability of organs for people requiring transplants which are life saving and life changing," she said.

"The organ donation bill as it currently stands remains on course to achieve that objective as it places a responsibility on the health minister to promote organ donation through education and awareness raising on this sensitive issue."

Some of Northern Ireland's most senior clinicians have been warning Stormont's health committee that the bill is unhelpful and potentially damaging.

Tim Brown, a transplant surgeon at the City Hospital in Belfast, said he had an issue with a presumed consent system for organ donation.

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