Family urges DUP to back opt-out organ donation

Belfast boy Daithi Mac Gabhann is on the waiting list for a heart transplant
Belfast boy Daithi Mac Gabhann is on the waiting list for a heart transplant
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The family of a two-year-old boy who needs a heart transplant are to meet with the DUP to urge the party to back an opt-out organ donation system for Northern Ireland.

The family of Belfast boy Daithi Mac Gabhann, who requires a transplant due to a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, has been campaigning for Northern Ireland to adopt a ‘soft opt-out’ organ donation policy.

Wales already operates an opt-out organ donation policy, whereby those who don’t wish to become organ donors when they die are required to register rather than those who do, and England and Scotland are expected to follow suit next year.

The Mac Gabhann family isurging each of Northern Ireland’s 11 local councils to signal their support for such a move here.

But a motion at Lisburn and Castlereagh council to do just that was opposed by the DUP last week.

The motion was still carried by the council thanks to the support of the other parties in the council, but the family is hoping to meet with the DUP to discuss the policy.

The DUP, meanwhile, said they have been in contact with the family and pledged to “listen to and be guided by the evidence” on organ donation.

Daithi’s father, Mairtin Mac Gabhann, told the News Letter: “We were disappointed that the DUP voted against the motion at Lisburn and Castlereagh council.

“I have requested a meeting with their health spokesperson, Paula Bradley, and she has said she would be willing to talk to me.

“Daithi was born with half a working heart. He had to have open heart surgery twice in the first days of his life and again when he was just four-months-old.

“We’ve been told now that he needs a transplant. Organ donation is his only chance.”

He continued: “We are doing everything we can to try and raise awareness and we are calling for a soft opt-out organ donation system like they have in Wales, where organ donation rates have gone up since it was brought in.”

A DUP spokesperson said: “Paula Bradley MLA has been in contact with Daithi’s father and agreed to meet with him. The DUP will listen to and be guided by the evidence, and if there is new information or emerging trends from Wales or further afield, we will clearly take these into consideration.”