‘Confusion’ over organ donation as MLAs table rival bills

Jo-Anne Dobson with her son Mark, whose life was saved by a kidney transplant.
Jo-Anne Dobson with her son Mark, whose life was saved by a kidney transplant.

Consent for organ donation should not be automatically assumed in every case as part of the drive to reduce waiting lists, a DUP MLA has said.

Alastair Ross was responding to comments made by the UUP’s Jo-Anne Dobson on Monday – that her own Assembly bill on the issue rendered Mr Ross’s separate Bill unnecessary – when he pointed out that the two new bills had a “fundamental issue” separating them.

The DUP member has proposed a minor change to the existing driving licence application form so that people have the opportunity to make a decision about their wishes regarding organ donation in the event of death.

However, Mrs Dobson’s proposed new legislation would adopt the “soft opt-out” approach where consent to donate is automatically assumed unless the person has stated otherwise.

Speaking after first learning of Mr Ross’s separate Bill, Mrs Dobson, whose son’s life was saved by a kidney transplant, said she was “somewhat baffled” and “confused”.

“Every MLA in the Assembly is fully aware of my intention to bring forward an organ donation Bill,” said Mrs Dobson. “So I was somewhat baffled to receive a letter from Alistair Ross this morning offering up his own Private Members Bill on organ donation, without any prior contact or consultation with me and indeed in direct contradiction to his Party Leader’s public statements on the issue.

“This action only serves to confuse the issue. The consultation for my Bill received a massive 1,366 responses with 82% of those supporting the move to a soft opt-out system. Surely it would have been more effective for Alistair to work with me on incorporating his proposals into my Bill?”