Ten year old Harry Wright has launched a fundraising campaign to help his mum, Sarah, who is urgently in need of a lung transplant. Harry is pictured with his mum, his grandad (Steve Gazzard), and siblings Billy and Marnie. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 8677-31-12AW
Thursday, November 22, 2012
A Withycombe father campaigning to change the law on organ donations following his daughter’s death says he is “disappointed” that the prime minister has not respond to his plea.
Steve Gazzard, the Liberal Democrat leader on the town council, wrote to David Cameron, East Devon MP Hugo Swire, health secretary Jeremy Hunt and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg urging a debate in the House of Commons.
Britain, which has the lowest rate of organ donation in western Europe, currently has a system whereby donors “opt in”. Mr Gazzard wants that changed so that people instead have to “opt out”.
It follows the death of his daughter Sarah Wright two weeks ago following a two-year battle with advanced lung disease.
Sarah, a 36-year-old mother of three, was being treated at a specialist unit at Harefield Hospital when two lungs became available – but they didn’t match her blood type.
Her father, himself a retired paramedic, believes a change would save lives and lead to fewer organs being “thrown away”. He said: “This is a straightforward change, and it is far easier for everybody. I have not spoken to one person who hasn’t said that the system should be changed.”
Mr Gazzard wrote to Mr Swire who in turn wrote to Mr Hunt. But while Mr Hunt expressed his condolences, he did not respond to Mr Gazzard’s call for a Commons vote.Mr Clegg replied with a three-line note written by an aide.
Mr Cameron did not respond.
Mr Gazzard said: “I’m really disappointed in Mr Cameron. He portrays himself as a family man, so I wrote the letter from one father to another, but to date I have had no reply.”
He added: “This week I wrote to [Exeter MP and former health minister] Ben Bradshaw. I’m really impressed with Ben and I have written to [shadow health secretary] Andy Burnham. I hope that between them they will get this issue raised in the Commons.”
To force a debate in the House of Commons 100,000 people need to sign the online petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38220 by September 2013.