Arlene Foster calls for organ donation policy review

Daithi Mac Gabhann is on the heart transplant waiting list
Daithi Mac Gabhann is on the heart transplant waiting list
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DUP leader Arlene Foster has called for a review of Northern Ireland’s organ donation rules after her party met with the family of a Belfast boy who needs a heart transplant.

The family of Daithi Mac Gabhann, who requires a transplant due to a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, recently met with the DUP’s health spokesperson Paula Bradley about the party’s organ donation policy.

Daithi’s family have been campaigning for an ‘opt out’ rather than the current ‘opt in’ organ donation system and have gained the backing of all the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly, with the exception of the DUP.

But, following what Daithi’s father Mairtin described as a “very welcoming, positive meeting” with Paula Bradley, Mrs Foster has now signed a letter calling for a “review” of the organ donation rules here.

Her letter, which is addressd to the Northern Ireland health department’s Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly, states: “We have all been inspired by this courageous family and the story of three-year-old Dáithí who was born in 2016 with a rare form of congenital heart disease ... and now requires a heart transplant.

“We acknowledge the phenomenal work of the Donate4Daithi campaign, support them in their efforts to normalise organ donation and increase the number of organ donors and transplants, and in light of emerging evidence from Wales and elsewhere call on the department to review the position on a soft opt-out organ donation system for Northern Ireland.”

Mrs Foster added: “I wish to lend my support to reviewing the previous decision not to introduce a soft opt-out organ donation system in Northern Ireland underpinned by legislation.”

Mr Mac Gabhann told the News Letter: “We have had great support from all the parties and with the DUP now calling for a review, hopefully we will see some action from the department.”