On Wednesday 20th May 2020 the law around organ donation is changing to an opt out system in England. This basically means that all adults will now automatically be put on the list to be an organ donor. Anyone who is under 18, lacks the mental capacity to understand the law or who has not lived in England for at least a year before their death will be excluded from this. You can still choose to opt out at any stage if you do not want to be considered to be a donor. As I mentioned in my last post, when a young girl named Keira sadly passed away in a car accident, her kidneys, liver and heart were donated to a young boy named Max. Max and his family campaigned for this law change which is now known as ‘Max and Keira’s Law.’
According to gov.uk, “Three people die each day while on the waiting list. The new law will help to reduce the number of people waiting for a life-saving transplant.” If you look at some of the statistics around organ donation, the numbers are baffling. It seems that a lot of people agree with it but have not got around to signing up yet – around 80% of people in England would be happy to be donors but only 38% have opted in. I get it, when it isn’t something on your radar you might forget, or not make time to jump online to register. From Wednesday, it will be done for you meaning that hopefully more life saving transplants will go ahead.
Another statistic that really blows my mind is that half of families don’t give consent to their loved one’s organs being donated. This is usually because they don’t know the wishes or views of their family member. Death is such a taboo subject in most households and it isn’t really something people want to chat about over their roast dinner on a Sunday afternoon but is so important to have that conversation. If you don’t know how to bring it up, show them this blog post and get them talking! It might just save someone like me one day in the future. Families will still be consulted when the law changes and the final decision is made by them.
I think another important thing to take from the law change is that you can still opt out if you want to. This can be done at any time on the NHS website and there is absolutely no deadline to do it. Also, I have heard a lot of people say that they are happy to donate everything except their eyes because they find the idea a bit strange. Obviously, this is entirely the choice of the individual but I think it is worth noting that the NHS do confirm that “the eye is never transplanted whole. The cornea is transplanted, which is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye that helps the eye to focus light.”
So the law is changing and you will automatically be put on the register unless you fall into one of the excluded groups. You can opt out at any point by visiting the NHS website. Your family will still make the final decision so it is still really important to have a chat with them to let them know how you feel about the idea and also to know what they think as well. “Every day, someone in the UK dies in need of an organ, because not enough organs are available for transplant. But only 1% of people die in circumstances that would allow them to donate. Most people support organ donation in principle and would be willing to donate their organs after their death. However, many people do not make this decision clear either by signing on to the NHS Organ Donor Register or telling their family. The change in law better reflects what most people want to happen and will help save and improve more lives.”