From Keighley News, March 8th, 2018
Written by Miran Rahman
AN Oakworth couple whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver have thrown their support behind a new drive to boost organ donation in the UK. Claire McKeown, daughter of Martin and Sally Walker, was killed on July 1 2011 aged 32. The woman responsible for Claire’s death was jailed for eight years. Since then Claire's organs have saved the lives of three people and helped improve the lives of at least five or six others.
Her mother, a former Keighley mayor and town councillor and father, a current Keighley town councillor, are supporting legislation called the Organ Donation Deemed Consent Bill, which is backed by Keighley MP John Grogan.
Mr Grogan, who met Mr and Mrs Walker last Friday, (March 2) explained: "Only a fortnight ago MPs backed this landmark bill that could save hundreds of lives every year, by introducing an 'opt-out' organ donation process.
"Under current rules donors, or their families, must declare whether they would be happy for their organs to be given to someone else in the event of their death.
"But the new proposed law, backed by the Commons, would drastically change the rules meaning that people would have to, instead, declare if they do not want to be a donor.
"The bill will now be closely scrutinised in a committee before going to the House of Lords. The hope is that it'll become law before the end of the year."
Mr and Mrs Walker said shortly after their daughter's death, they had already known what her stance on organ donation was, as they had discussed this issue with her when she was a teenager.
Mrs Walker said: "We knew Claire held an Organ Donor card, so the heartbreaking decision to go through the 'shopping list' – heart, lungs, liver, kidney, bladder, eyes – turned out to be one of the easiest life choices we've ever had to make.
"In Claire's case, she saved the lives of a 21-year-old woman with less than a week to live through a liver transplant, a six-year-old boy who had been on dialysis for two years and benefited from a kidney donation, and a 55-year-old man who was walking around the ward two days after a bowel transplant.
"We later received a heartfelt 'thank you' letter from the mother of the six-year-old boy, who will now be looking forward to becoming a teenager, whereas Claire would have turned 40 this year."
Mr and Mrs Walker noted that there are currently 6,500 people in the UK waiting for a life-saving transplant, and that three people die every day waiting in vain for this aid.
They added that the Welsh Assembly voted in December 2015 to introduce the "opt-out" into organ donation.
Mrs Walker said: "Some people point to Wales and say it hasn't made much difference to the rate of organ donation there. But these things are slow to take off. Five or six years down the line this will make a difference."
She and her husband stressed that under the proposed change in the law families would still have the safeguard of being able to oppose their loved one's expressed wishes.
Mrs Walker said: "The message is clear. Family members must be involved and informed of people's wishes before any choices have to be made. Many more lives will be saved if England follows Wales's example."