Date announced for new law where everyone is considered as having agreed to donate their own organs
The Government has announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, Max and Keira’s Law – the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act – will come into effect on the May 20 this year.
From the time the law changes, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, what’s known as ‘opt 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; and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily.
Even after the law changes, families will still be involved before any organ or tissue donation goes ahead and NHS Blood and Transplant Specialist Nurses will continue to speak with families about their loved one’s decision.
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “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.”
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."
Max Johnson, the 12-year-old heart recipient, who championed this law change, and in return saw the law named after him and his young donor, Keira Ball, said: “I am very excited that we now know when the law change in England will actually happen.
"There are so many people who are waiting, just like I was, for the call to say that a suitable heart, kidney, lungs or liver has been found. I just hope that this law change can help save more lives.
"When you are waiting for a transplant, every day counts and I hope that everyone who hears about the law change will be reminded to speak to their family, so they know what you want.
“I am proud that when people speak about Max and Keira’s Law, they will be reminded to think of Keira, and I hope by remembering her in this way, that she will go on to help save even more lives than she already has.”
It has also been stated that only organs and tissue used for routine transplants, will be included under the new system.
To find out more, or to register your decision to opt in or opt out, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 303 2094.