December 1st 2016
Today I raised the important issue of organ donation in Westminster and paid tribute to a young constituent who sadly passed away in 2012 due to the lack of organ donors.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
A 20-year-old constituent of mine made an indelible and unforgettable impression on my hon. Friend the Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden) and me with the tragic story of his half a dozen abortive attempts to get the organ transplant that he desperately needed. Six months later, I attended his funeral. He died because of a lack of donors. Yesterday, the Welsh Government announced that, as a result of their pioneering and courageous legislation on the new law of presumed consent, 39 patients in Wales had had organ transplants. When can we get the Government to accelerate in this House a law that will allow the same process and the same advantage to be enjoyed throughout the rest of the United Kingdom?
I will certainly make sure that that point, which the hon. Gentleman and others have made, is considered by the Health Secretary and his team. Very many of us, myself included, know friends or family members who have literally been given a new lease of life through a successful transplant. All healthy adults need to consider whether they should make arrangements to make clear their wishes in advance of their death. It is also important that our medical professionals are trained in how to make an approach to families at a critically emotional moment when a relative is at the point of death, to ask them sensitively to consider whether to give consent for a transplant to take place.
The links below contain further information on the moving story of the constituent I spoke of today, Matthew Lammas.
September 23rd 2012
Tragedy of failing system
Shocked and upset to hear the news that a constituent passed away yesterday. I gave an account of his situation in a parliamentary debate last November. I received the sad news on Facebook today. His death is a reminder of the need for an urgent reform of the organ donor system that imposed additional suffering on the seriously ill and their relatives.
Paul Flynn: We must get away from what we are hearing from prattling prelates and procrastinating politicians and look at the real issue. We cannot talk about a system that is working well, as was suggested this morning, when 1,000 families were bereaved last year in the UK and 50 families were bereaved in Wales. I will not talk about one family in my constituency where a young woman died waiting for an organ transplant because it is too heartbreaking a story, but I want to say something about the reality. Despite all the fine theories and words ahead, what is happening to real people in our constituencies?
Some of us listened to the testimony of Matt Lammas and his mother when they came to Parliament a month ago. It was a dreadful story of suffering that moved us all. Matt and his brother were born with congenital heart defects and they both had pacemakers. Matt was suddenly getting a great deal of pain and discomfort and was taken to the hospital, where the diagnosis was a sombre one. His heart was growing and he would eventually die. He was told that on a scale of one to 10 his chance of surviving was at 9.9, and the family prepared for his death. They were told that a heart transplant was a possibility, so they arranged for him to go to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital, where he had a series of assessments. When the doctor told them that he would have to have a transplant, his mother said:
“Matt and I stared at each other it was so surreal. Had we both heard the same thing? We didn’t talk. Matt may have wept, I can’t be sure. I felt numb and could only think about my son who I had just been told was dying.
The sister came back in. ‘Had you been expecting to hear that?’ she asked gently. ‘No!’ we said together. It was the first thing we had said since hearing the awful news. ‘I thought he would need a new pacemaker.’ I said.”
She told the story—which some hon. Members will have heard—of the dreadful things that happened from then on. There were false alarms; a call from Birmingham came at 2 o’clock in the morning. They prepared themselves and started to drive up the motorway, only to be told when they were halfway there that the heart was not suitable. There were many other false alarms along the way. Eventually the transplant did occur—I find it difficult to read the whole story so I will cut it short. The family went through agony as the young man approached death. He was fitted with a device that would keep him alive for 28 days, but death was a certainty at the end. By good fortune—not from the wisdom of politicians or prelates—he survived. He is at home now and has a life expectancy of five years.
Another constituent of mine, a young woman the same age as Matt, died last year because there was no heart available. I believe we must say—because the overwhelming evidence is there in spite of what the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire said this morning—that the weight of the medical evidence shows the best way forward, and that is the decision that the Welsh Assembly is about to take. For goodness sake, instead of going along as we are—particularly today—serving the few rather than the many and talking about our various political differences, let us realise that this is an area in which we politicians can save lives and lift the burden of anxiety from families waiting for organs. We know that all of the evidence—the fair evidence, not the procrastinating evidence we have heard this morning—shows that there will be more organs available. For goodness sake, let us allow the Welsh Assembly a free run to get on with it and lead the country as it has in the past with other reforms. We hope that England and the rest of the United Kingdom will follow suit when the reforms produced by the Welsh Assembly are proved to be a great success.