The opt-out system

The opt-out organ donation system is not in place for England. A Government consultation about the proposed system has now closed and the House of Commons is at the early stages of considering a Bill put forward by a Member of Parliament.

Under the proposed new system, you would be a donor unless you actively register your decision to ‘opt out’. This is the ‘deemed consent’ system currently in use in Wales.

We want to remind everyone that it will take time for any new system to become law. Please don't wait to commit to saving lives; you can join the NHS Organ Donor Register now.

The current system in England

Under the current system, people who want to donate their organs ‘opt in’ or agree to donate after their death by signing up as a donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register and telling their family their decision. If the person had not recorded a decision to donate then our specially trained nurses sensitively provide information to their family to help them to reach a decision about whether organ donation should go ahead.

Families declining to donate organs have led to at least 360 missed potential transplants during the 12-week opt-out consultation alone

We urgently need more people to donate: sadly around three people die every day in the UK in need of an organ while more than 1,000 families say no to organ donation every year.

Families who agree to donation say it helps with their grief and that they feel enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning.

Why change the current organ donation system?

The aim of considering a new system is to establish what more could be done in England to ensure that the overwhelming public support for organ donation is supported both within the legal system and in the NHS and that a person’s decision to donate is supported whenever possible. 

We welcome the Government’s commitment to the lifesaving power of organ donation. We support any initiative which leads to more organ donors and more lives being saved.

Organ and tissue donation saves or drastically improves the lives of thousands of people every year and there is very strong support for organ donation within the English population. Over 80% of people say that they would be willing to donate their organs after their death but only 36% have recorded this decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

However, at any one time there are around 6,400 people on the transplant waiting list and on average three people die each day in the UK in need of an organ transplant.

Jade's wait for a liver transplant

Jade Gulliver who died waiting for a liver transplantJade Gulliver died aged 27 waiting for a liver transplant. She had viral hepatitis and left behind her two boys, Kai and Max.

Jade's sister Crystal said: “You hear about transplants on the telly but you never expect it to happen to someone you know.

“She kept getting sicker and sicker. I can’t explain what it was like - waiting every day for a phone call that never came. We take the boys to the bench we have in Jade’s memory for birthdays and anniversaries and we show them pictures. 

“I will be the first to admit before this tragedy, I also was almost ignorant to organ donation. Now I want to do everything in my power to prevent this from happening, so that no more families have to go through what our family has been through, and is going through.”

What can you do?

We hope people will take time to think about organ donation, and make a decision about what they want. If they want to donate, people should sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss their decision with their family so that their intention to give the gift of life after death is fully understood. We also hope people will continue to take part in the national conversation about organ donation. 

Further information:


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