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Organ donation law in England is changing

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How is organ donation law changing?

From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups. This is commonly referred to as an ‘opt out’ system. You may also hear it referred to as 'Max and Keira's Law'.

More about the opt out system

If there is no recorded decision for you on the NHS Organ Donor Register, it will be considered that you agree to be an organ donor when you die.

Organ donation remains an act of great generosity. Adults covered by the change in the law will still have a choice about whether they want to be an organ donor and their families will be consulted about donating their organs when they die.

If you would like to speak to somebody about your choices, please call our dedicated line: 0300 303 2094

Why is the law changing?

Every day, around three people die in need of an organ, because not enough organs are available for transplant. 

However, only 1% of people die in circumstances that would allow them to donate.

The law is being changed to help save and improve more lives.

When is the law changing?

The opt out system in England will come into effect from spring 2020.

The law around organ donation in England will remain ‘opt in’ until this time.

What do I have to do?

Whatever you decide, make sure you tell your family, so that they can help to ensure your choice is honoured.

If you want to be an organ donor, you can choose to donate some or all of your organs by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.

If you do not want to be an organ donor, you should register a ‘refuse to donate’ decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. This is also known as opting out.

If you are already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and your decision remains the same, you should tell your family what you want.

If you want to change your decision, which is already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register, you should amend your registration.

Tell your family

It is essential to tell your family whether or not you want to be an organ donor.

Mark and Karen's story

Karen consented to organ donation on behalf of her husband Mark, because she knew his donation decision. This is their story.

You can record a decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register to opt in, or opt out, but your family will be asked to support your decision, when the time comes.

Did you know?

If there is no recorded decision for you, your family will be asked if they have any information that shows whether or not you wanted to donate.

Which groups are excluded from this change?

  • Those under the age of 18
  • People who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action
  • Visitors to England, and those not living here voluntarily
  • People who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death


What is the NHS Organ Donor Register?

The NHS Organ Donor Register is a database that holds the details of all those who have registered a decision about organ donation, whether they have decided to donate or not. Registering on the NHS Organ Donor Register and telling your family are the best ways to ensure your decision is honoured when you die.

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