Hope of change in organ donor law

By David GreenTHE father of a woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant said he was "absolutely delighted" with support for legislation requiring people to opt-out as organ donors.

By David Green

THE father of a woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant said he was "absolutely delighted" with support for legislation requiring people to opt-out as organ donors.

Richard Spurgin, 59, whose married daughter, Kate Trevarthen, 27, died more than a year ago, spoke after BBC Radio 4 announced the result of its Listeners' Law vote on his proposal for new legislation.

The proposal, for people's organs to be automatically taken for transplant unless they had formally "opted-out", was one of five selected from 10,000 sent in by the public. Stephen Pound MP had pledged to pursue the winning proposal in Parliament.


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Top of the poll, with 37% of the vote, was a proposal for homeowners to be given the right to use "any means" to defend their property.

It was submitted on the back of the conviction of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin for shooting burglars who entered his home.

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Mr Martin, whose fatal shooting of a burglar at his farm in Emneth Hungate in 1999 sparked a national debate about people's right to defend their property, welcomed the outcome.

"I think, basically, people now know what is going on and they are taking notice. This is wrong, heinously wrong, that you should actually live in fear in your home that if somebody breaks in that, basically, you are going to have the law jump down on you. It is just not right," he said.

Asked whether he would do the same thing again, Mr Martin replied: "In the same circumstances, yes, if I am terrorised. People are highly jeopardised in this country. I personally think we are looking bloody stupid in the world."

Mr Spurgin's proposal came second with 30% of the vote, but he was optimistic that legislation would eventually be passed.

"I think it is fantastic that we got 30% of the vote and I'm buoyed up by all the support that was received. I don't think we've lost – I think we've raised awareness of what needs to be done over organ transplants," said Mr Spurgin who lives with his wife, Cathy, in Harleston.

He wanted to particularly thank the people of his home town for their encouragement, as well as East Anglian Daily Times readers who had voted for his proposal.

"Barristers on this morning's programme suggested the proposed homeowners law would be unworkable and I agree," said Mr Spurgin.

"I underttand about the anxiety caused by the threat of intruders entering people's homes, but you have got to draw the line somewhere in terms of how you are permitted to respond."

He added Mr Pound had also indicated he would have preferred the organ donation idea to come top and he would now pursue both the proposals that had achieved the greatest support.

"I am optimistic that something will happen and bring hope to thousands of people who are waiting for transplants," said Mr Spurgin.

"He said he would speak to other MPs and disclosed he had already contacted the Health Secretary, John Reid, about my proposal."

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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