‘More people need to discuss organ donation’ – Hamilton

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Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
Community, Politics
Health Minister Simon Hamilton today welcomed the publication of the Public Health Agency’s Evaluation of its Public Information Campaign on Organ Donation. organ1The awareness campaign, which ran throughout 2014, gives an important insight into local attitudes towards organ donation. The campaign made people more aware of the Organ Donor Register and increased the number discussing their wishes with a family member. Speaking to Newry Times, the Minister commented, “The Public Health Agency’s Evaluation shows that obtaining consent for organ donation from family or friends is still one of our biggest challenges in increasing the number of organs available for transplant. “It is vital that you discuss your wishes with your family. Even if you are a registered donor, after your death, your family will be asked if they agree to organ donation and any decision they make will be respected. “When families or friends know your views on organ donation, it makes the decision much less difficult and gives them the confidence that they are following your wishes.” The Evaluation also indicates that while there has been a slight increase in the number of people who would be in favour of changing to a system of presumed consent, there are still significant numbers of others unsure or opposed to it. Minister Hamilton continued, “Although based on a small sample, the Evaluation suggests a small increase in support for a system of presumed consent or ‘soft’ opt-out. This would require legislation in the Assembly which would be a very significant change and not one that should be taken without having first examined the best available information on the likely impact of such legislation. “I therefore want to carefully watch how the new ‘soft’ opt-out system being introduced in Wales from this December affects their organ donation consent rates from next year onwards. “Wales has a similar NHS system to Northern Ireland and I expect that we will be able to learn from their experience and use it to carefully consider the future for organ donation in Northern Ireland along with the views of local transplant clinicians and other stakeholders.” The Minister commended the great improvements in organ donation and transplantation in Northern Ireland in recent years, as the numbers of donors and transplants have risen significantly in a short period of time. The Minister added, “Next week is National Transplant Week and I would encourage everyone who has not already done so to consider joining the Organ Donor Register, and to please make sure they take the time to discuss their wishes with their family and friends.” You can sign up to the Organ Donor Register, or obtain further information, at http://organdonationni.info
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