Mum of Irish boy who died waiting for transplant in Britain says new ‘Opt Out’ donor system is not enough

Mum of Irish boy who died waiting for transplant in Britain says new ‘Opt Out’ donor system is not enough

THE mother of a 10-year-old Irish boy who died in Britain waiting for a heart transplant has said Ireland's plan to bring in an ‘Opt Out’ donor system is a start but doesn't go far enough.

Maria Coyne was reacting to the Irish Government's proposed new Human Tissue Bill that will bring in a system of “presumed consent” for organ donation in Ireland.

The current system requires people to ‘Opt In’ if they wish to make their organs available for transplantation following their death.

Speaking at the opening of a new headquarters of the HSE Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) office in Dublin, Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said the bill will be brought before the Government “soon”.

Maria Coyne’s son Gavin tragically died in Newcastle in February after being forced to await a donor in Britain due to Ireland lacking child transplant facilities such as those available in Britain.


She says the new Human Tissue Bill is a step in the right direction but that Mr Harris has chosen the “soft” option.

“It’s great that the ‘Opt Out’ bill has been proposed but if the facilities aren’t there in Ireland then we are still going to be sending our kids abroad for transplants,” Ms Coyne told The Irish Post.

Gavin was diagnosed with heart failure in November last year after suffering from what was originally thought to be a stomach bug.

The gifted schoolboy, who achieved one of the highest scores his teacher had ever seen in both Maths and English, quickly saw his condition deteriorate after being transferred to Britain.

He spent the last few months of his life in Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after the HSE transferred him to the NHS.


Ms Coyne added: “Without a paediatric transplant unit in Ireland we won’t have the ability to use all the organs that are donated and they’ll just be shipped over to the UK, and families will still have to travel abroad to have their kids treated.”

Under both the present system and the newly-proposed Human Tissue Bill, families of the deceased must give their consent before organs are donated, even if the deceased was a registered organ donor.

But Ms Coyne says families shouldn’t have to make the “horrible decision” if their family member already decided to donate their organs.

“If someone explicitly consented to have their organs donated upon their death it doesn’t matter, consultants are still obligated to ask the family of the deceased if they can go ahead with an organ donation,” Ms Coyne explained.

“I totally understand why families object because it’s a horrible decision to have to make.

“That’s why they shouldn’t have to make it anymore.”