Northern Ireland

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Organ donation in Northern Ireland

The BMA is calling for the introduction of an opt-out system for organ donation in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland currently operates an opt-in organ donation system, where a person has to register their consent to donate their organs in the event of their death.

Under an opt-out system there would be a presumption in favour of consent for organ donation unless a person had registered an objection in advance.

If an objection had not been registered, family members would still be given the opportunity to confirm whether the individual had any unregistered objection, as an extra safeguard, before any procedures went ahead.


Why change matters

  • By October 2017 in Northern Ireland there were 754,155 registrants on the NHS Organ Donation Register, which equates to around 41% of the Northern Ireland population.
  • At the same time, there were 200 people in Northern Ireland on the waiting list for organ donation.
  • In 2016, 12 people died waiting for an organ.

There has been an increase in organ donation in Northern Ireland, which BMA Northern Ireland has welcomed. However, we believe this figure can be improved by introducing a 'soft' opt-out system.


Our campaign

Following Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement of new legislation for an opt-out system in England, BMA Northern Ireland council chair John D. Woods wrote to the leaders of Northern Ireland's five main political parties, asking them to support similar legislation in Northern Ireland.

Read the letter

The BMA has been campaigning for a UK-wide opt-out system for organ donation since 1999.

Read more about our national campaign


Related content

Two third of people across Northern Ireland support a 'soft' opt-out organ donation system, reveals new BMA survey (press release)