Join the Organ Donor Register
Record your decision to donate your organs
NHS Blood and Transplant has teamed up with Rest Assured Funeral Plans to give its customers the opportunity to join the Organ Donation Register as they plan their funerals.
The new partnership aims to reach large numbers of potential donors, and prompt widespread conversation about organ donation, as increasing numbers of people turn to pre-paid funerals for their end of life arrangements.
Launching this week, the unique scheme is being piloted for two months by Rest Assured Funeral Plans. It is hoped other funeral plan companies will then join the initiative.
‘Rest Assured’ customers are being given the chance to put their names on the NHS Organ Donor Register during face to face appointments, or will have the option to join online at a later time. They will further receive organ donation information in their Rest Assured Funeral Plans welcome pack.
Corrine Hynes, the fiancée of “hero” organ donor David Llewellyn whose lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and pancreas saved the lives of five people after his death in January this year, has backed the scheme.
The 26-year-old described the scheme as “brilliant and brave” for “identifying the perfect situation and moment to discuss organ donation.”
She said: “It is difficult to have the conversation around organ donation. People often say they are not ready to talk about it, but this NHS scheme prompts the conversation in a natural way.
“The scenario you are in when buying a funeral plan is perfect for addressing the matter. It goes hand in hand with a decision to sign the Organ Donation Register. The connection between planning a funeral and planning what happens to your body after you’ve died is obvious.
“Both things remove a burden from loved ones at a difficult time for them too.”
Recalling the moment she broached the subject of organ donation with David, Corinne explained: “When David was ill I knew it was important to discuss it, no matter how difficult it would be.
“I didn’t say ‘David, I think you’re going to die’ because we didn’t know at that point. But given his history of health scares I made sure we had that conversation in a roundabout way. It wasn’t an easy experience for either of us.
“But to have had it earlier in life with a person’s views made clear in writing beside other relevant documents, the way this scheme ensures, means those difficult conversations aren’t needed at a time when a person is going to lose their life.”
Rest Assured Funeral Plans will monitor customer responses during the pilot scheme, offering feedback to NHS Blood and Transplant.
Corinne added: “The question of donating organs isn’t something anyone should be offended by when they’re purchasing a funeral plan. This is an intelligent and positive move from the NHS and Rest Assured Funeral Plans. David would have greatly approved of it.”
Betsy Bassis, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “When people are at the point of making arrangements for their funeral, it will often follow that they will also be making other significant decisions about their end of life affairs.
“We are pleased to be working with Rest Assured to be able to provide people with information about organ donation at this important point in their lives. We very much hope that schemes like this will help encourage the discussion of organ donation as a natural part of the end of life process.
“People often tell us that they have included their decision to be an organ donor in their will. However, for organ donation to be possible, it is important that your family is already aware of your decision prior to your death.
“Other people tell us that they believe they are too old or in too poor health to be considered as a donor. However, there is no age limit and many people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s go on to donate.
“With so many myths and misconceptions surrounding organ donation, we are keen to give people the opportunity to find out the facts and ensure they take the time to share their decision with their family.”
In spring 2020 the law around organ donation in England changes. All adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate or are in an excluded group. However, families will still be consulted before donation goes ahead so it remains vital to speak with family members and let them know of decisions.
Rest Assured Funeral Plans’ CEO Thomas Loughran said: “Whether it be the content of a funeral service or what happens to our bodies after we die, decisions about end of life arrangements are difficult to make in any moment. Bringing those decisions together in a convenient and natural way, at a time when a person is ready to make them, makes perfect sense.
“The advent of the funeral plan, and funeral plan companies, has made it possible to reach many more people when they are making end of life arrangements. Raising the subject of organ donation with our customers when they are purchasing a funeral plan is logical and progressive.
“We feel sure Rest Assured’s customers will respond positively and elect to sign the Organ Donation Register when they may otherwise not have done so.
“Rest Assured Funeral Plans is delighted to trial such a worthwhile scheme. We hope it will lead to many people receiving a donated organ and the gift of a new lease of life. We also hope others in our industry will follow suit once the pilot scheme has proved successful.”
Notes to Editors
How will the change to an opt out organ donation system for England affect you?
Record your decision to donate your organs
All the major religions and belief systems in the UK support the principles of organ donation and transplantation
Read powerful, real life stories about organ donation