Number donating organs in North doubles in five years

Northern Ireland to consider consent model where people would opt out of possible donation

In 2008 there were just 22 donors in Northern Ireland, while in the last 12 months there were 40. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

In 2008 there were just 22 donors in Northern Ireland, while in the last 12 months there were 40. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 06:47

The number of people donating their organs upon death in Northern Ireland has almost doubled in the last five years, according to official figures.

The 82 per cent increase in deceased organ donors in the region was announced as the NHS revealed it had achieved a target to increase the number by 50 per cent across the UK as a whole.

In 2008 there were 22 donors in Northern Ireland while in the last 12 months there were 40.

Across the same period, the number of donors UK-wide rose by 50 per cent to 1212.

There had been almost no increase across the UK over the previous decade.

The upsurge has been linked to developments in 2008 when the four UK administrations accepted recommendations made by an expert task force.

Stormont’s Minister for Health Edwin Poots welcomed the latest figures.

“The significant increase in deceased organ donors demonstrates the instinctive giving nature of the people of the province and the efforts of those who have worked together across the health service and voluntary organisations to deliver this noteworthy achievement,” he said.

“However, we must never be complacent and I would urge everyone to consider joining the organ donation register.”

Consent model

The statistics were released amid moves in Northern Ireland to introduce a presumed consent model of organ donation, whereby people would be considered to be donors unless they opted out.

Mr Poots has announced his intention to put the proposal out for public consultation.

Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s director of organ donation and transplantation, noted the marked increase in donations in Northern Ireland.

“I would like to congratulate Northern Ireland on achieving an 81.8 per cent increase in deceased organ donation over the last five years,” she said.

“This is the result of publicity campaigns and commitment throughout hospitals to identify and support potential donor families and the altruism of the people of Northern Ireland.

“Despite this achievement, we still have a long way to go across the UK as three people die every day in need of an organ transplant and if more families consented to donation, more lives would be saved.

“We want everyone - individuals and families, to be proud to say yes to organ donation, when asked.

“For this to happen, everybody in Northern Ireland who wants to donate their organs should have a conversation with their loved ones about their wishes.

“We look forward to continuing to support the Northern Ireland Government’s ambition to save more lives.”

PA