Julie Elliott MP: Change in organ donation law will save lives

Organ donation.
Organ donation.

Introducing a change in the law on organ donation could save as many as 500 lives a year – lives that you, your family or those close to you may treasure dearly.

This Friday I will be backing Geoffrey Robinson’s Private Members’ Bill, which seeks to introduce a national opt-out system for donation in England – a system that is already saving lives in Wales.

Organ donation.

Organ donation.

I have always supported a change in this law and now, as friends, colleagues and family know, this issue has become personal – as my daughter, Rebecca, is on the waiting list for a new kidney.

Rebecca’s illness came pretty much out of the blue. She was a young, fit woman who enjoyed running, a career and being a mam. Now, she is on dialysis and needs a transplant.

It is incredibly unusual for me to talk about my family in my role as an MP, but the situation with Rebecca brings home the reality that many other families find themselves facing each day as well.

Figures show that here in Sunderland 37 people have died waiting for a transplant in the last decade, and there are currently 32 city residents on the transplant waiting list.

Nationally, some 6,271 patients – including 155 children – are on that same list. Sadly, at least one dies every single day whilst waiting for a kidney transplant – which highlights the need for change.

At present, people must opt-in to become an organ donor after their death, but this Friday’s Bill in the House of Commons would – if passed – pave the way for an opt-out system instead.

This is all about saving lives.

The change would mean that people would automatically be considered a donor, unless they previously opted-out, or their families opt-out on their behalf.

Wales has already moved to an opt-out system, and Scotland is set to follow.

Getting the Bill passed tomorrow certainly would help ensure the law in England is changed by the end of this year.

The Government are currently consulting on a change in the law as well – so I do believe it is only a matter of time before the law is changed.

Geoffrey’s Bill tomorrow may make that change come sooner.

There is an urgent need for organs – this proposed change in the law would make a real difference to many, many people – not only patients, but also their families and friends.