First Steps Women’s Centre

The topic of organ donation is frequently discussed and debated.  Organ donation traditionally refers to the removal of organs after death to be given to someone who is ill and awaiting a transplant. Increasingly there is a move to organ donation where people donate organs while still alive. This usually but not exclusively happens within a family circle. This is referred to as Live Organ Donation.

The current system for organ donation in Northern Ireland is an opt- in system which means that people who chose to donate their organs have to sign the organ donation register. The percentage of the population in Northern Ireland who have signed up to the organ donation register is lower than in other parts of the United Kingdom, currently standing at around 30%.  In UK surveys about 90% of people when asked would be willing to donate their organs after their death.


In recent years the government has been doing a number of things aimed at raising this percentage. 

There is much debate currently about whether Northern Ireland should move from the present opt- in system where people must take the conscious decision to sign the organ donation register to a new system where everyone would be opted in and those who do not wish to donate their organs would be required to consciously sign off the register thus indicating that they do not wish to donate.

There are many cultural and religious reasons why people would choose to donate their organs or not. It is and should remain a decision based on individual values and beliefs. However the opportunity for wider discussion and debate is to be welcomed so that informed decisions can be made and the wishes of people upon their death can be followed.


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Patient and Client Council Blog Entry 19

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