Published on 20 May 2020

New ‘opt out’ system launched today (20th May).

A revision to organ donation law means that all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die - unless they have recorded a decision not to donate, or are in one of the excluded groups.

NHS announced the changes will come into place from today (20th May) as part of a new ‘opt out’ system.

Your family will still be approached, and your faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected.

You still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die.

The Organ Donation Act is known as Max and Keira’s law in honour of a boy who received a heart transplant and the girl who donated it.

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.

NHS Organ Donation give people the option to register their preference online here
People are asked to record their organ donation preference on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell family and friends what they have decided.

A statement from the NHS said the change in the law was being issued to help save and improve more lives. 

A helpline is available if you would like to talk to somebody about your choices at: 0300 303 2094

The changes will affect all adults in England unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the following excluded groups:

  • Those under the age of 18
  • People who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action
  • Visitors to England, and those not living here voluntarily
  • People who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death
An NHS Organ Donation factsheet is available here
The factsheet explains how the law around organ donation in England is changing, what you need to do, and the choices you can make.

Professor Paul R V Johnson, Professor of Paediatric Surgery, University of Oxford and Director of DRWF Islet Isolation Facility and Lead for Oxford Islet Transplant Programme, said: “Over the last decade, pancreatic islet transplantation has achieved considerable clinical success by reversing life-threatening hypoglycaemia in certain patients with type 1 diabetes.

“However, one of the factors limiting its wider application is the worldwide shortage of donor pancreases.

“Although considerable research efforts are being focussed on trying to find an ultimate alternative source of pancreatic islets for transplantation, such as islets from stem cells, it will be a number of years before these can be used clinically.

“In the meantime, it is vital that we increase the number of organ donors so that more patients can benefit.

“The new 'opt out' organ donor system introduced this month is a significant step towards trying to address this need and we welcome it.”

The DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility was launched in 2006 at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford. Housed within the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), this facility harvests insulin producing islet cells from donor pancreas for research and transplant. It plays a pivotal role in the supply of islets for the delivery of an NHS funded national therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

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