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Help us save lives, says organ donor GAA pundit Joe

ALL-IRELAND winner and RTE GAA pundit Joe Brolly, who donated a kidney to a friend, is appealing to the public to support his Opt For Life campaign.

Under the scheme, which is being launched nationally by the GAA over the next few days, people would not need to carry organ donor cards.

Each person would become a potential organ donor at death unless they chose to opt out.

Last year, the former Derry player donated a kidney to fellow coach at St Brigid's GAC in Belfast, Shane Finnegan (40).

However, the kidney subsequently failed.

Despite this, Joe is deeply committed to the Opt For Life campaign, and is well aware of the difference it can make.

He says the campaign is all about creating awareness and a "more sensible system where organ donation just becomes part and parcel of dying, just as it is in countries like Belgium, Spain, Croatia and Portugal.

"If someone came up to you and said, 'Do you fancy saving eight people's lives, you don't have to do anything, you'll be there dead, on a ventilator, what do you think? Transform eight people's lives, save eight lives, the answer to that would be, well, yes, of course."

In his experience, he says, "95pc of people think that organ donation is a great thing but only 25-26pc have a donor card, so in future we wouldn't need a donor card. We'd all start off as donors."

He stresses that, under the proposed scheme, anyone who does not want to be a donor can opt out and even where they do not, family consent would have to be confirmed.

"So the question would become, under the new system: 'Is there any reason that I shouldn't be a donor?' and that better reflects what people think about organ donation."