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The First Minister, deputy First Minister and Health Minister have met with organ donation campaigners to mark significant progress in new soft opt-out organ donation legislation.

Paul Givan, Michelle O’Neill and Robin Swann welcomed campaigners Dáithí, Maírtín and Seph Mac Gabhann to Stormont Castle after the Executive signed off the Health Minister’s proposed legislation on new soft opt-out organ donation legislation, which will now proceed to the NI Assembly.

Four-year-old Dáithí has been on the waiting list for a heart transplant for more than three years. His family have been campaigning for a move towards soft opt-out law and to raise awareness of organ donation.

Under the proposed opt-out legislation, it is considered that everyone would be willing to donate their organs unless they have formally opted out or fall into one of the exempted categories. The family would continue to be consulted about donation as well as considerations around faith and beliefs.

Around 115 people in Northern Ireland are on the transplant waiting list, and every year around 10-15 people in Northern Ireland die waiting on an organ transplant. As only a very small proportion (around 1%) of deaths occur in circumstances where organ donation can proceed, any increase in the rate of consent will make more life-saving organs available for transplantation.

First Minister Paul Givan said: “I’m pleased that the soft opt-out organ donation bill is now able to progress to the Assembly for scrutiny and debate. This is a landmark day for so many people and their families who are currently on a waiting list.

“Today I had the joy and privilege of meeting one of the youngest, the amazing Dáithí Mac Gabhann, along with his father Maírtín. I am in awe of his fighting spirit. He deserves the hope that this Bill brings.”