Sunderland MP's passionate speech supporting change in organ donation law

Sunderland MP Julie Elliott, left, and daughter Rebecca.
Sunderland MP Julie Elliott, left, and daughter Rebecca.

An MP whose daughter undergoes daily dialysis has urged Parliament to back a change in the law for presumed consent for organ donation.

Labour's Julie Elliott gave a hugely personal speech in the Commons about her eldest daughter Rebecca, 36, who has chronic kidney disease.

She was speaking on Friday as the Bill supporting the consent's introduction received an unopposed second reading.

It will now undergo further scrutiny at committee stage.

The Sunderland Central MP said Rebecca, who has a six-year-old daughter, now undergoes dialysis for eight hours every night to cope with the condition.

"For me as a mother, my natural instinct has always been to make things better for your children. It's what we all do," said Ms Elliott.

"To me, she's always going to be the baby that I gave birth to 36 years ago. You love that child instantly and unconditionally, and that never changes.

"It's a terrible situation to be in a situation where you can't fix something that's gone terribly wrong.

"But what I can do from the privileged position I have of being a member of this place is raise awareness and campaign for a change in the law to that deemed consent."

MPs heard how Rebecca had been signed up to run the London Marathon before her diagnosis in October 2016 after a routine blood test.

Five family members had offered to donate organs but none of them were a match, Ms Elliott added.

She said that while dialysis had restored her daughter's quality of life and enabled her to go back to work, she still had bad days.

"Whenever she has a bad day, and she does bad days emotionally, because it's a very difficult thing to be dealing with, she'll say 'I'm sick of this dialysis', I'll say 'just think what's the alternative Rebecca', and that very quickly focuses your mind and you pick yourself up," said the Labour MP.

"The impact on our family has been huge. You go through a period of shock and disbelief and anger as to why Rebecca, and more than one doctor has said to us through this period that it shouldn't be happening to her.

"She's been a fit, healthy young woman who's done everything right in terms of looking after her health, and they can't find the reason why this has happened.

"And the emotions and the journey you go through are like a rollercoaster, because it's not just the dire impact of what's happening medically to Rebecca, but it's the emotional impact of seeing what is happening to her might mean your daughter might not be there when I'm still here, which is not something any parent ever wants to consider.

"But it's also, although my children are grown up, they're having to deal with seeing their mother less coping than I normally am, and I'm a fairly strident, coping kind of woman normally, but also for all of them dealing with their sister might not be here, and that's all very, very difficult."