Organ donation is an emotive subject for many but perhaps the positive aspects of discussing this are the moving stories of patients undergoing transplants and leading new lives.

That was the scene at the Novena of Hope at the Graan earlier this week when organ donor, Joe Brolly, opened his heart to the crowds telling them how he experienced “real love” through his own donation of a kidney.

He said by donating a kidney to someone who was until then a stranger, had opened up a new world for him. Now Joe and the recipient of the kidney, Shane Finnegan, have set up a charity called Opt for Life.

He told his audience how the parents of 13-year-old Oisin McGrath had decided to donate their son’s organs, an act that helped to save the lives of five people, including a 10-year-old girl who received his heart.

They could quite rightly say now that Oisin’s spirit lived on through five other people.

The subject of organ donation is becoming much more high profile now with Ulster Unionist MLA, Jo-Ann Dobson’s Private Members Bill to have a soft opt-out system of organ donation in Northern Ireland.

The reason?

An average 15 local people die every year while waiting for an organ transplant and while 90 per cent of the public support organ donation, when it comes to the actual circumstances, just 30 per cent of the public sign up.

Under the soft opt-out system, people would automatically give their consent for donation unless they indicated their objections but there was a safeguard for families who would have the final say.

It would be hoped that through this system, more families faced with heartbreaking situations, would want to see other families have hope, through the donation of organs. The other encouraging news is that a deceased donor could give life to four or five other people.

The idea of the Private Members Bill also encourages discussions among families with the hope that in the event of a close family member dying, the organs could be donated through the highly organised transplant system which involves medical support.

At the end of the day, families will decide but if the discussions have already taken place, it makes those decisions much easier.