Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has addressed the Annual General Meeting of the Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association (NIKPA) which took place recently at Belfast City Hospital.
The local politician who has personal experience of Organ Donation said: “Almost a decade ago, purely by chance, my mother heard a radio interview with William Johnston from NIKPA who was talking about the important work of this local charity.
“At that time, I was coping with a very ill child and my mum urged me to get in contact with William. I made the call and my journey with NIKPA began.
“It was with pure pride that I stood before their members at their AGM, in a position to update them on my Private members Bill to change the law on organ donation – to move from the current Opt-In to a new ‘Soft’ Opt-Out system, which will ultimately help to Save Lives.
Mrs Dobson is also the Chairperson of the All Party Group on Organ Donation and chaired the first meeting of this new group recently at Stormont.
Following the meeting she commented on the Health Minister's announcement, made that morning. She said:
“Whilst the announcement is welcome, we really do need clarity on when exactly the public information campaign will get underway; what sort of budget will be allocated to it; and what options the public will be surveyed on. When questioned at today’s meeting, Health officials did not provide answers to any of these important questions.
“During the meeting we raised a number of queries with the officials, who were not even aware of the content of the Press Release coming from the Minister, which was issued just thirty minutes before the meeting.
“The support of the Health Minster and his officials is crucial if we are to achieve a change in the law which will help to save local lives.
“As a long-term supporter of organ donation it is greatly encouraging to see members from all political parties at Stormont coming together to support the important work of this new All Party Group.
“We will continue to lobby as a group to ensure that Organ Donation remains high on the agenda at Stormont.”