Organ donation law in Northern Ireland

The current legislation for Northern Ireland is to opt in to organ and tissue donation; you can do this by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and sharing your decision with your family. You can also record a decision not to be a donor.

You can also nominate up to two representatives to make the decision for you. These could be family members, friends, or other people you trust, such as your faith leader.

Following consideration of the issue, in 2020 the health minister announced his intention to pursue a change to an opt-out system for organ donation, as is already seen in Wales, Jersey, England, Scotland and Guernsey.

An image of Belfast City Hall bathed in pink light in support of Organ Donation Week 2017
Belfast City Hall illuminated in pink in support of Organ Donation Week

A public consultation demonstrated widespread support for a move to an opt-out system and this started the Organ and Tissue Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill’s journey through the formal legislative process in the Northern Ireland Assembly in July 2021.

It has since received approval by the Assembly on 8 February 2022 and Royal Assent on 30 March 2022 to become an Act of law.

Find out more on the legislative journey of the Act

From 1 June 2023, the law around organ and tissue donation in Northern Ireland will move to an opt-out system.  This will mean that all adults in Northern Ireland will be considered potential organ donors unless they choose to opt out or are in an excluded group.

The new law will be known as Dáithí’s Law in recognition of Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who has been on the waiting list for a heart transplant since 2018, when he was just a baby.

Find out more about what the law changes will mean

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