'Opt-out' organ donation bill is passed by MPs in landmark vote

Chloe Chaplain
Speech: Labour's Julie Elliott made an emptional speech about organ donation and talked about her daughter becoming sick

MPs have backed a landmark bill that could save hundreds of lives every year by introducing an “opt-out” organ donation process.

Under current rules donors, or their families, must declare whether they would be happy for their organs to be given to someone else in the event of their death.

But a new proposed law, backed by the Commons on Friday, would drastically change the rules meaning that people would have to, instead, declare if they do not want to be a donor.

The vote was passed with no opposition after MPs made passionate and emotional speeches in the Commons.

The Organ donation (Deemed Consent) Bill was introduced by Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson.

Mr Robinson told MPs that the country has some of the lowest rates of organ donation in Western Europe and said NHS figures revealed around 500 people were dying every year due to a lack of suitable donors.

"This is not good enough,” he said. “I believe we can do better and be pioneers in making transplants more effective."

He also said that he hoped it would encourage families to speak more openly about the issue, saying: "None of us likes to think about the worst happening. It is challenging to have conversations with loved ones about their wishes after death.

"We know that it is at that moment when families are confronted with the awful situation that very often they back off, sometimes over-riding the wishes of the deceased who happens to be a registered donor."

Labour MP Julie Elliott made an impassioned speech on the issue and spoke of her daughter who is currently receiving dialysis for a serious kidney disease.

She said family had undergone turmoil when her 36-year-old daughter, who was previously health, was diagnosed with the problem in 2016.

"What happened to us over the last 18 months could happen to anyone, rich or poor... and highlights the reality of the need to change the law to a position of deemed consent," she said.

"From hopefully one day the family member of a recipient, I want to say (to donors) thank you very much from the bottom of my heart - you are very special people."