New opt-out law for organ donation is announced

Last year over 400 people died while waiting for a transplant.

Matt Bodell
9 August 2018
Organ Donation

The Government has announced reforms to the current consent system for organ and tissue donation.

The UK Government has announced proposals to introduce a new ‘opt-out’ system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England.


According to official statistics from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service, there are currently over 6000 people waiting for life-saving transplants. Last year over 400 people died while waiting for a transplant.

The plans, which are expected to come into effect in spring 2020, will mean consent for organ donation after death is presumed unless the person has opted-out. The Government claims this style of system better-reflects the views of the majority of the population

In the meantime, you can join the organ donation register and its important to discuss your wishes with your loved ones.

Last year 411 people died on the transplant list.

Anthony Clarkson, Interim Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The decision on opt-out legislation in England is a matter for Parliament and any changes will only take place when Parliament agrees to them. Under the proposed system, you would be a donor unless you make it clear that you don’t want to donate.


“There is an urgent shortage of donors and last year 411 people died on the transplant waiting list. We support all activity that increases the availability of donated organs for life-saving transplants and we welcome the Government’s commitment to organ donation. NHS Blood and Transplant will work with the Government to ensure that any changes are implemented successfully.

“Whatever system is in place, it will always be important that people talk to their family about organ donation. This can make things easier for families at a very difficult time.”

Nurses overwhelmingly support these changes.

A consultation carried out by the Royal College of Nursing earlier this year found that 71% of nurses favoured moving to a soft opt-out system – with safeguards including communication campaigns and training for staff.

RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies said: “Nursing staff overwhelmingly support moving to a soft opt-out system for organ donation.


“But the patient journey does not end when they receive a transplant. They need lifetime support and care to ensure transplanted organs are not rejected and life with their new organ is lived well.

“Specialist nurses play a key role in delivering care before and after transplant. To enable the predicted increase in organs for donation the Government must provide increased financial investment into this vital workforce.”

The opt-out system will exclude children under 18, individuals who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes and people who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death.

Proposals include an option on the NHS organ donor register for people to state important religious and cultural beliefs to ensure they are respected and there will be strict safeguards in place.

Janet added: “We welcome the commitment to clear conditions and safeguards to ensure the new system is fair to patients and to donors. We now look forward to working with the Department of Health and Social Care in implementing and supporting the roll-out of this life-saving service.”


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