Liam takes organ donation campaign to Westminster

Liam Byrne
Liam Byrne

A Bury St Edmunds campaigner who has received two life saving liver transplants has met the town’s MP as part of his efforts to see the opt-out organ donation scheme introduced in England.

Liam Byrne is calling for the presumed consent system of organ donation, which was implemented in Wales in 2015 and requires people to actively opt-out if they do not want to be donors.

Last week, the 29-year-old visited Westminster to speak to Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill about the benefits of the system.

He said: “The opt-out system in Wales has been a huge success saving many more lives but also tackles that awkward question to families when the time comes. As many people truly do not know what their loved ones would have wanted. I believe it would work just as well in England.”

His call may soon become a reality as Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson was due to launch a private members bill this week to get the law changed.

Liam knows all too well the value of organ donation after living with auto-immune hepatitis (AIH) since the age of 11. He said: “The best way to explain AIH is that the immune system thinks the liver is a foreign object and it starts killing it.”

In late 2010, his condition deteriorated and he was placed on a transplant list.

However, by the end of the year, doctors told his family he had just months to live.

Luckily, a liver became available giving him a ‘second life’. But at the start of 2014, Liam suffered chronic liver failure, was told he had weeks to live and was put on the transplant list again.

“On February 1 2014, a week after being put on the list, I was the luckiest person in the world and received another liver which I’m completely grateful for,” he said.

“This donor was a 68-year-old woman and I’ve had no major problems which proves it doesn’t matter what age you are to be a donor.”

In the past year, Liam has set up a Facebook page to promote the importance of organ donation.

Mrs Churchill, who has full donor status, said: “I warmly welcome the opportunity to lend support to Liam in his admirable campaign and make representations to the Department (of Health) on his behalf.” To view Liam’s page, visit www.facebook.com/organdonationchallenge