• Residents urged to back change of rules over organ donation

    15th January 2013 | News | Claire
  • Cllr Steve Gazzard, one of the EDDC representatives for Exmouth, is campaigning for a change in the rules, following the tragic death of his daughter, Sarah, while she waiting for a double lung transplant.

    Cllr Gazzard promised Sarah, who was a mum of three young children, that he would continue to campaign for a change in the rules, which would mean people would have to ‘opt-out’ of donating their organs in the event of their death.

    Currently, the system is set up so that people have to take the step of registering to donate their organs and are asked to carry a donor card, to demonstrate their wishes.

    Cllr Gazzard has written to Hugo Swire MP, deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg and prime minister, David Cameron, urging them to change the system, which he believes if was already in place, may have saved his daughter.

    It is estimated that around 90 per cent of the population supports organ donation, but only 29 per cent have signed up to the organ donation register.

    Cllr Gazzard has recently visited parliament accompanied by Jacquie Spencer, the NHS team manager for the South West organ donation team, where he told his daughter’s story to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Transplantation.

    Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, replied to Cllr Gazzard on Mr Cameron’s behalf, on 16 October, but disappointingly, although the letter spanned two pages, it failed to even address the issue of opting out of organ donation.

    Frustrated with Mr Hunt’s reply, Cllr Gazzard wrote again to Hugo Swire.  At the time, Sarah was critically ill in Harefield Hospital.  She died on 9 November.

    Cllr Gazzard pointed out that Mr Hunt had missed the point of his letter and asked Mr Swire to raise a question in the House of Commons, on the organ donors register, requesting a debate on the subject. 

    Mr Swire’s reply on 7 November, stated that his position as Minister of State in the Foreign Office precluded him from raising questions in the House or signing Early Day Motions. 

    Mr Swire instead said he would write back to Mr Hunt, asking him to directly address the issue of the opt-out scheme.

    Mr Hunt has since replied to Cllr Gazzard, expressing his reluctance to support such a scheme, as in his view it would create more problems than it solves, but the secretary of state failed to set out details to support his view.

    Cllr Gazzard is preparing to write once again to Mr Hunt to try to establish why he holds this view.

    Cllr Gazzard said:  “The law needs to change.  People are dying needlessly, like Sarah every year.  There are one million donors in the UK, but up to 40 per cent are overturned by next of kin.  It should be treated like a will.”

    East Devon District Council unanimously backed Cllr Gazzard’s motion at the December full council, for a change in the rules over the organ donation system.

    Cllr Gazzard and his family are also campaigning to raise money for the Harefield Hospital, to provide a new £1.5m scanner.  This evening they are holding an event at Franklin’s restaurant, with music.

    To register as an organ donor visit http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt or call 0300 123 2323.

    To sign the petition to change the organ donor scheme to opt-out, go to http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38220