Passage of the Northern Ireland opt-out law, Dáithí’s Law

Kidney Care UK has been at the forefront of the campaign to deliver an opt-out system of organ donation in Northern Ireland and are delighted that the Bill, to be known as Dáithí’s Law, will come into effect on 1 June 2023.

This was the final piece in the jigsaw of organ donation reform across the four nations of the UK which means that, in the event that organ donation is possible after you die, it will be considered that you agree to be a donor unless you choose to opt out or are in an excluded group.

Kidney Care UK has worked alongside the Health Minister Robin Swann MLA throughout the legislative passage, including featuring in his Departmental press statement when he first announced his intention to bring forward an Opt-Out Bill in July 2020.

Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, appeared before the Northern Ireland Health Committee to provide evidence and support the Bill as it conducted its scrutiny role and we continued to support and encourage politicians at the Northern Ireland Assembly, and latterly Westminster, to complete the final legislative hurdles.

Kidney Care UK’s Northern Ireland Ambassador Jo-Anne Dobson, a former Stormont MLA and living kidney donor, first proposed an opt-out system at the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2013. Jo-Anne believes that Northern Ireland can be rightly proud of the ‘all-too-rare political unity’ which now surrounds the new organ donation laws and the loud, clear and positive message it sends to the public about what local politicians can achieve when they work together.

Kidney Care UK was also heavily involved in the campaign to secure the passage of the Bill's final piece of secondary legislation which was delayed in January 2023 due to the absence of a functioning Executive at Stormont.

We joined with families across Northern Ireland and support for overcoming the difficulties which were blocking the Bill increased as the public realised the importance of modernising organ donation laws and bringing them in line with the rest of the country. Following this campaigning, the resulting common sense approach taken by the Government to move the required secondary legislation as an amendment at Westminster was warmly welcomed.

In the weeks and months ahead, including on the important go-live date of Thursday 1 June, the focus will move from the passage of the law to the important roll out of an all-encompassing public information, education and awareness campaign.

At Kidney Care UK we are proud to have been involved throughout the entire legislative process of this important Bill and will continue to work with elected representatives and Department of Health officials to increase organ donation and improve the chances of those waiting to receive a transplant.