Opt-out organ donation passed into law

Adults in England will be automatically be considered potential donors unless they chose to opt out or are excluded.

Matt Bodell
15 March 2019
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A new system for organ donation that will save hundreds of lives has come into law.

The Organ Donation Act, also known as Max and Keira’s law, has today received Royal Assent enshrining it in law.


This change will mean adults in England will be automatically be considered potential donors unless they chose to opt out or are excluded.

There are more than 6,000 people currently waiting for an organ in the UK. Three people die each day while on the waiting list. The new law will help to reduce the number of people waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Presently, 80% of people in England support organ donation but only 37% have recorded their wishes. This means families are often left with a difficult decision when a loved one dies.

Those who do not wish to donate their organs will still be able to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donation Register.


Max and Keira’s law.

Children, people who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes and those who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death will be automatically excluded.

The changes will take effect from 2020 following a consultation on whether certain organs should be excluded from the opt-out system.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I’m delighted Max and Keira’s law has passed today. It marks a momentous step for thousands of people in need of a life-saving transplant, and could save as many as 700 lives a year.

“With significantly more people willing to consider organ donation than are actually registered as donors, this vital step will presume consent unless people choose to opt out of being a donor.


“It’s important that everyone takes the time to discuss their choices on donation with their families and register their wishes, whatever their preference may be.

“I also want to thank those who have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of this issue, and pay particular tribute to Max, Keira and their families for making this historic change happen.”

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