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Organ donation opt-out

The new “deemed consent” law draws closer

In the last issue of The Donor, we shared the Government’s plans to move towards an ‘opt out’ system for organ donation in England. Under the plans, everybody would be considered a potential organ donor, unless they had recorded their decision not to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register. This is known as ‘deemed consent’.

The Organ Donation ‘deemed consent’ Bill has now progressed through the House of Commons and House of Lords and should receive Royal Assent in the coming months. Royal Assent turns a Bill into an Act of Parliament or law. Any change in law around deemed consent would not come into effect until April 2020.

The Government plans to launch a public information campaign in England in April this year, with the aim of raising public awareness before the new law is implemented.

One of the reasons for the change in law is that whilst the majority of people living in England support donation, the numbers are not reflected in the proportion of people who have signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register. Changing the system will help ensure that people who do support organ donation go on to help others after their death.

It’s still important that people talk to their family about their donation decision, as family members will continue to play a vital role before organ donation can go ahead. The change in law also aims to increase the number of donated organs, which save and improve the lives of those in need of a transplant.