NEW ORGAN DONATION SYSTEM TO COME IN ON 20 MAY 2020
- New opt out organ donation system to address shortage of organs available for transplant
- One in five people who died on the organ transplant waiting list last year were from a BAME background
- Change could see up to 700 extra transplants each year by 2023, helping thousands people across UK waiting for a transplant – donating organs will remain a personal decision
From 20 May 2020, Max and Keira’s law will be implemented in England and 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.
Donating organs will remain a personal decision. While the new system starts in May, people will continue to be able to record their decision to opt out at any point.
It’s important that everyone takes the time to discuss their choices on donation with their families, whatever their preference may be.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“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.
Orin Lewis OBE, ACLT co-founder, and CEO said:
“6,000 people across the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly many will die waiting. It is for this reason, ACLT is thrilled to hear the new opt-out organ donation system will be introduced on the 20th of May 2020.
“Because one in five people who died on the organ transplant waiting list year were from a BAME background, and while we encourage people of all races to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register website, we have a particular focus on engaging with the black community on this subject matter especially when ethnicity matching is so vital as many from this group are disproportionately affected.
“Therefore it is important to understand donating organs will always remain a personal decision, even prior to the new system starting in May.”
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:
“The incredible gift of organ donation means that one family’s tragedy can bring new hope for another.
“At the moment, the chances of this are lower because of the shortage of available organs and tissues. This new law can help change that, saving many more lives every year.
“I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to have a conversation with their families and friends about their organ donation wishes and register a decision.”
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said:
“We hope that the new law encourages more people to record their donation decision and talk about organ donation with their families. It is important for people to know that they can do this at any time before or after the law comes into effect. There is no deadline for making your donation decision.
“We are encouraged that almost two thirds of people in England are now aware that the law is changing, but we would like this figure to be even higher by the time the law changes. The majority of people tell us that they support organ donation in principle, yet only around 4 in 10 have actually registered their decision.
“For those who have not thought about organ donation before, or who still have questions, we have lots of information available on our website and our team of helpline advisors are available to answer any queries. Organ donation is and always will be a precious gift and if more people are inspired to support and agree to donation, then many more lives can be saved.”
Jacob West, Director of Healthcare Innovation at the British Heart Foundation, said:
“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. We very much welcome the introduction of Max and Keira’s Law on 20 May 2020 – it’s such an important step forward with the potential to transform so many lives.
“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.”
We will present to Parliament draft regulations this morning setting out organs and tissues which will not be part of the opt out and the Human Tissue Authority code for healthcare workers. This will ensure that everyone understands the rules and regulations of the new system. Subject to Parliamentary approval, this will be implemented on the 20 May 2020.
The list of organs and tissues which will be excluded from deemed consent have also been laid in parliament following a full 12-week public consultation on the list last year. This is an additional safeguard to ensure that only organs and tissue used for routine transplants are included in the new system, to help those on a waiting list.
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/. However, it is also possible to tell a friend or family member or record it in writing.