The All Party Group on Organ Donation in the Stormont Assembly works to keep MLAs informed of developments in Organ Donation as they affect people within Northern Ireland. Chaired by Mrs. Jo-Anne Dobson, MLA for Upper Bann, it meets roughly three times per year and has heard from representatives of a number of charities working to promote organ donation, including the RVH Liver Support Group in November 2014.
The All Party Group hosted a Platform Event at Stormont in the early afternoon of April 20th. The purpose of the event was to better inform MLAs of the work of the various charities and the experiences of transplant patients and their carers. Mrs. Dobson and her Vice-Chair on the All Party Group Mr. Pat Ramsey formally opened proceedings at 12noon. After that it was up to representatives of the charities to get talking to those MLAs who dropped by.
The RVH Liver Support Group was represented by five of its members – Donald Cairnduff, Gordon Cave, Eileen Hearst, Gareth Hunter and Sharon Millen. During the two hours at Stormont we were able to share personal stories, to outline the impact on patients of travelling to England for transplant surgery and to showcase recent developments in our work – the Helpdesk in Outpatients; plans for outreach meetings in different areas of Northern Ireland.
We had the chance to speak at some length to the following MLAs: Mr. Steven Agnew; Mr. Sammy Douglas; Mr. Mark Durkan (Minister for the Environment); Dr. Alasdair McDonnell; Mr. Michael McGimpsey; Mr. Mitchel McLaughlin (Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly) and Mr. Pat Ramsey.
It was a most rewarding day. We left sensing that we had done a good deal to make our work better known at the heart of local government. Sincere thanks for our invitation go to all on the APG, particularly to Mrs. Dobson and Mr. Ramsey.