Organ campaigner Joe Brolly urges law change

Former GAA star wants donation to be the norm in Northern Ireland

Shane Finnegan, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Joe Brolly and   First Minister Peter Robinson at the start of the Life Cycle Challenge  in Belfast today. Photograph: PA Wire

Shane Finnegan, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Joe Brolly and First Minister Peter Robinson at the start of the Life Cycle Challenge in Belfast today. Photograph: PA Wire

 

A campaigner to make organ donation the norm in Northern Ireland has said he will not rest until positive changes are made in the law.

The GAA pundit and former Derry star Joe Brolly, who gave a kidney to friend and fellow GAA coach Shane Finnegan, supports changing the law to an opt-out system of organ donation across Ireland.

The two men were joined by First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at an awareness-raising cycle ride in Belfast today.

“We have made great progress in advancing this message with the key stakeholders but Shane and I will not rest until these very positive changes are made,” Mr Brolly said. “It is very clear that the majority of people in Ireland see organ donation as having a positive impact on hundreds of people who are suffering.

“With this subtle, but vital, legislative change the numbers of people receiving organs would greatly be increased.”

Mr Finnegan received a kidney from the ex-sportsman during an operation at Guys Hospital in London on October 3rd but it had to be removed due to medical complications.

The First and deputy First Ministers joined a host of names from the sporting and medical worlds and over 300 members of the public this weekend to take part in the Life Cycle Challenge to raise awareness of a campaign to change the law on organ donation in Ireland.

Mr Brolly and Mr Finnegan organised the event as part of their campaign for change to the law.

They were joined by a host of sporting greats, including former road race champion Paul Kimmage, Irish rugby legends Trevor Ringland and Keith Crossan, Steven McDonnell, John and Tony McEntee of Armagh GAA and the GB & NI Transplant Cycle Team.

Leading medics from throughout Ireland including Dr Paul Glover, head of organ donation in Northern Ireland and Professor Jim Egan, Ireland’s head of organ donation, also attended the event, which is calling for a transformation in organ donation law where the onus is on people to opt out - with families always having the final say.

“The proposition is that in future we will all start out as donors with those people who, for whatever reason, do not wish to be a donor registering their objection by opting out confidentially online but crucially the family will always have the final say,” Mr Brolly said. “This enshrines the altruism within organ donation - a sacred gift from one family to another.”

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