From 20 May 2020 organ donation will move to a system of deemed consent, otherwise known as ‘opt-out'. All adults will be presumed as a possible organ donor when they die, unless they have made a decision that they do not want to be a donor or are in an excluded group.
Currently people from a black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds are disproportionately affected – they are more likely to need a transplant and one in five people who died on the organ transplant waiting list last year were BAME. The new system of consent will help address the shortage of BAME organ donors and help those desperately waiting for a life-saving, or life-enhancing, transplant with organs that are a suitable match.
It’s important that everyone takes the time to discuss their choices on donation with their families, whatever their preference may be.
Last year, government passed the Deemed Consent Act 2019 to give hope to those waiting for a transplant.
Children below 18, people who have been ordinary residents for less than 12 months in England and people who lacked capacity for a significant time, will be excluded. These regulations will ensure that when novel transplants become available in the UK they will be excluded from the new system
The new system is expected to start from 20 May 2020, subject to Parliamentary approval of draft regulations and Code, laid in Parliament on 25 February.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Asian Voice, “Too many people lose their lives waiting for an organ, and I've been determined to do what I can to boost organ donation rates.
"So I'm incredibly proud of the action we are taking with this new law. This is an important step forward in making organ donation easier and more available to those who need it and could help save hundreds of lives every year.
"I pay tribute to the brave campaigning of families such as Max and Keira's, whose tireless work on this issue has made a huge difference."
A wide-ranging public information campaign led by NHSBT is ongoing to make the public aware of the changing law so they know what this means and the choices available to them.
Jacob West, Director of Healthcare Innovation at the British Heart Foundation added, “More than 300 people in the UK are waiting for a heart or a heart and lung transplant in the UK, not knowing when or if they will receive their new organ. Max and Keira’s Law is a lifesaving change in legislation that will offer hope to these people and their families.
“With the change in law, there’s no better time to discuss with your loved ones what you want to happen to your organs when you die. It’s not an easy conversation, but it could save somebody’s life.”
Fiona Loud, Policy Director of Kidney Care UK, said, “People are still dying every single day in need of a transplant and around 80% of those waiting for a transplant are in need of a kidney...
“Patients have been waiting and hoping for this change, which stands to make a positive contribution to lives and our society, for many years.
“Alongside the commitment to continued public education and support from our NHS. We urge everyone to have a conversation about organ donation so they know what their loved ones decision is.”
The simplest way to record a decision is on the NHS Organ Donor Register website, available at: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/.