“One donated organ can leave a legacy that lasts generations” That’s our message to all adults to discuss organ donation.
We’re backing the new Organ Donation Act, commonly known as “Max and Keira’s law.” In recognition of a boy who received a heart transplant and the girl who donated it.
The new law, which comes into force today (Wednesday 20 May), places all medically suitable adults in England on the organ donation register. Exclusions to automatically being placed on the register include people under the age of 18. Those lacking the mental capacity to give consent. And anyone who has lived in the country for less than 12 months.
However, this does not mean consent to donate organs after death is automatically granted.
Permission of the next of kin is still required before donation takes place and every adult has the right to be removed from the register. Adults can also decide which of their organs and tissues can be considered for donation and which cannot.
The law is in response to the low numbers of organs donated in the UK. There are 6,000 people waiting for an organ, and tragically three die every day while on the waiting list.
Knowing your organ donation rights are important
Deepak Dwarakanath, Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We need to make it clear that the new law absolutely does not give the right to take anyone’s organs without permission after their death.
“Previously, people who decided to donate their organs needed to join the register to record their decision. In the event of their death and providing their organs were suitable. The hospital’s donation team would discuss the deceased’s decision with the family to gain consent.
“The new law reverses this and places every suitable adult on the register, unless they themselves choose to be removed.
“We will still gain permission from the next of kin prior to any donation.
“We’re asking everyone who wants to donate their organs to discuss their decision with their loved ones. So should that day ever come, permission will be granted.
“Anyone who does not wish to have their organs donated should opt out of the register at the earliest opportunity.”
Donated organs from one person can save multiple lives and various tissues can be used. All to improve the quality of life for many people such as transplanting the corneas to restore or preserve sight.
In 2017, the tragic death of 13-year-old Jemima Layzel from Horton in Somerset, led to eight different people receiving lifesaving organs. All thanks to the family’s decision under the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
The positive impact of donated organs extended beyond the recipient to their family and friends who may have also experienced the stress and worry of waiting for a donated organ.
Deepak continued: “Organ donors are heroes. They save lives because of their kindness. It’s not just that one life. It’s the lives that will follow as some of those people will go on to have children of their own.
“One donated organ can leave a legacy that lasts generations.”
To find out more about the new law, or to remove yourself from the register, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk
Under the new law, all adults in England are considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate (known as ‘opting out’) or are in one of the excluded groups.
Those excluded will be people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; people who have lived in England for less than 12 months; those who are not living here voluntarily and those who have nominated someone else to make the decision on their behalf.
In cases, where the individual hasn’t expressed a decision, specialist nurses will support families to make a decision, based on what their loved ones would have wanted. If the decision is not to donate, this will be honoured and upheld.
Wales already has an opt out system, after changing their law in December 2015. Jersey introduced the opt out system in July 2019 and Scotland will also be moving to an opt out system in March 2021.