Community concerns allayed as House of Lords debates Organ Donation Bill

The Government’s Organ Donation Bill was debated in the House of Lords on Friday. This followed a letter from Public Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl to allay community concerns over the legislation which will change the organ donation system from ‘opt-in’ to ‘opt-out’.

Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews referred to the letter, which had been requested by the Board of Deputies. Lord Leigh of Hurley, President of the Westminster Synagogue, said he was supportive of the Bill mainly because of the letter which stated that “organs and tissue will not be taken without full consultation with persons in a qualifying relationship”.

Baroness Deech also mentioned the letter, stating that it “provided faith and minority communities with the comfort that the change in the organ donation system will respect beliefs while helping to save lives.”

Responding to peers’ concerns, Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “Let me leave you in no doubt that, as now, there will always be a discussion with the family on the best way forward… No family will be forced to agree with the donation if they are strongly opposed to it.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “The Board of Deputies works closely with Government to ensure that the concerns of the community are addressed. I am grateful for the Minister’s assurances on organ donation which allay many of the community’s anxieties, particularly as I am someone who has personally benefitted from an organ donation. I look forward to promoting organ donation education in our community so that even more lives can be saved.”

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