Historic 'opt out' organ donation law will come into force next spring

The British Heart Foundation say that It is critically important that families have the discussion about what they want to happen to their organs upon their passing.
The British Heart Foundation say that It is critically important that families have the discussion about what they want to happen to their organs upon their passing.

From spring next year, all adults in England will be considered as potential organ donors unless they have recorded a decision not to donate in the new'opt out' scheme.

The change in law follows campaigning by the British Heart Foundation and others, and could lead to hundreds more people receiving life-saving transplants every year.

Countries such Spain, Croatia and Portugal have already introduced an opt-out system.

Last year the government announced that the legislation would be referred to as Max’s Law, in recognition of all the campaigning Max Johnson and his family were doing when Max was waiting for a heart transplant and have continued to do since receiving the heart he so desperately needed.

Max’s gift of life came from a young girl called Keira Ball, who tragically passed away aged nine-years-old.

Those excluded will be people under the age of 18, those who have been a resident in the country for less than 12 months and people who lack the capacity to understand the change.

Adults covered by the change will still have a choice whether they want to be an organ donor and their families will still be involved before organ donation goes ahead.

The British Heart Foundation say that It is critically important that families have the discussion about what they want to happen to their organs upon their passing.

Research shows that 82% of people support organ donation, although only 37% have recorded their wishes to be donors. Meanwhile, less than half of families give consent for their loved one’s organs to be donated if they are unaware of their wishes.

Our Director of Healthcare Innovation, Jacob West, said: “The law change will be a vital first step, but what really matters now is for it to be given the right resources and infrastructure to work effectively, and save thousands of lives in the process. We look forward to the Government making this vital commitment.”