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Parliament Throws out Binding Organ Donor Register

GiveLife NZ

8 November 2007

Parliament Throws out Binding Organ Donor Register

Parliament last night voted 70 votes to 49 to throw out a bill that would create a legally binding organ donor register and accompanying public awareness campaign.

The National Party and Independent MP, Gordon Copeland voted in favour of the register with all other parties against.

In recent polls up to 91% of the public were in favour of a binding register and the majority of the submitters to the Select Committee were also calling for a binding register to help solve New Zealand's third world donor rates.

There were just 25 organ donors in New Zealand last year.

MP's who were opposed to the bill sponsored by National MP Jackie Blue argued that there is no evidence that a register would increase organ donor rates. This is despite Dr.Blue telling Parliament that a steady stream of countries and US States are actively starting up registers and reporting an increase in donors.

GiveLife NZ Spokesperson and Co-Author of the bill Andy Tookey was disappointed that the bill did not proceed further.

"I have a 6 year old daughter who will need a liver transplant, I wouldn't have spent 5 years of research on this if I believed it would not increase donor rates or even lessen donor rates as some have suggested. I appreciate that the select committee were acting on the information available to them at the time. Though I believe the information that was given to them was flawed and selective. The main area that swayed them was a Ministry of Health report that said there was no evidence that a register would increase donors. However that contradicts the Ministry's earlier advice to previous select committees that showed that out of the US donor registries that they contacted over half reported increases.

The Government made a 2005 pre-election promise to establish a register and that was based on 'policy advice' from the Ministry."

Mr.Tookey is also concerned that not having a register means that organ donation will now remain on the driving licence system which many MPs expressed concerns about in earlier debates.

"A register was not just about raising the number of organ donors" Said Mr.Tookey. It was also to take away the mess of having it on the driving licence. I believe many MP's who voted the bill down have missed the point."

Parliament also overturned two previous Select Committee recommendations for a consent register preferring to put a register on hold for any future government to consider if one is deemed necessary.

The Prime Minister has not responded to questions to date as to whether the Government will honour its 2005 election promise to establish a register.

Facts on the current driving licence donor status.
• The current driving licence system has an 'organ donor' indicator. Though the driving licence is a legal document the organ donor status on it is not legal.
• Non-drivers can not sign up as organ donors.
• The driving licence is not checked for donor status in the event of death
• Specific organs for donation can not be specified on the licence only a 'yes' or a 'no' to being a donor can be recorded.
• If you change your mind to being a donor during the period of the ten years of your licence it will cost you $32 to change your wishes on your licence.

© Scoop Media

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