Opt-out organ donation law: What you need to know
Earlier this year, the laws surrounding organ donation in England were highlighted for a big change. Organ donation regulations differ from country to country within the United Kingdom: Wales brought in an opt-out law in December 2015 and England is soon to follow. On the 15th March 2019, the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill received Royal Assent, meaning the bill is now an act of parliament.
But what does this mean?
With the Organ Donation Act (also named ‘Max and Keira’s Law’) in place, unless adults in England opt-out, they will be considered as a potential donor.
This is welcome news for more than 6,000 people in the UK who are awaiting a transplant. From April 2018-April 2019, 3,918 people received a transplant – tragically however, three people on the waiting list die each day. There are hopes that the change in law will reduce the wait time and increase the number of people receiving their vital transplant.
We’ve outlined some key points you may need to know about Max and Keira’s Law before it comes into effect.
When will the opt-out organ donation system begin?
Now the legislation to change the law in England has passed through parliament, the opt-out system will begin in April 2020. The Government has yet to confirm the specific date.
The NHS website also states:
The changes will not come into effect immediately to make sure there is plenty of time to inform people about what is changing. This will give people time to choose if they want to be an organ donor and to share this decision with their family and friends.
The new law doesn’t apply to everyone
There are some groups of people excluded from Max and Keira’s law. It’s important that you know whether you or a loved one are included or not. Below are those excluded from the system:
● Those under the age of 18
● Those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action
● Those who have lived in England for less than 12 months
● Those who are not living in England voluntarily
Register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register
Sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register if you’ve decided you want to become an organ donor – this is the best course of action if you want to make your wishes clear.
If you’re already registered as a donor you can amend your details and reassert your wishes – equally if you’re already a registered donor and have changed your mind the ‘amend your details’ portal is where you need to go.
Want to opt out of organ donation?
You don’t have to wait until 2020, you are able to make this clear on the NHS website.
Have you decided you’d like to register but there are certain organs or tissues you don’t want to donate? You don’t have to opt out completely – you can specify details as part of the registration process.
Speak with your family
The NHS Blood and Transplant’s advice is to always make your wishes clear to your family. You can register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, however, when the time comes, your family will be consulted and asked to honour the choice.
Your donor card
When you sign up via the NHS Organ Donor Register for the first time you will receive a donor card. Keeping this on you will make your intentions clear – but it’s so important to have a conversation with your family and loved ones.
Getting your affairs in order
Now you know more about the opt-out organ donation law, it might also be a good time to think about getting your affairs in order. If you are not sure where to start, the funeral and bereavement advice company Beyond, for example, can assist you with writing a will and they can also help compare funeral plans and find a funeral director you can trust.
Every registered organ donor in the UK is vital. Donors are usually only suitable if they have passed away in an accident and emergency department or an intensive care unit.
Around 1 in 100 of the approximately 500,000 people who die in the UK each year, die in circumstances where organ donation is actually possible.
To talk to NHS Blood and Transplant about the opt-out system you can call 0300 303 2094 on their dedicated line.