Organ Donation Law Changes Today in England

Summary

The law change means that, in England, unless you have recorded a decision to opt out, are in an excluded group or have nominated someone to make a donation decision for you, it will be considered that you have agreed to donate your organs.

The excluded groups are:

  • people under 18
  • people who lack the capacity to understand the change
  • people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living in England voluntarily

In an opt out system, people still have a choice about whether or not to donate and can record their decision at any time – before or after the opt out system comes into effect.  Where donation is a possibility, families are always consulted to ensure we know what the person who has died wanted to happen.

Max and Keira’s Law

Max and Keira’s Law – the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act, has come into effect today, 20 May 2020.

Opting out

Under the new law, all adults in England are considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate (known as ‘opting out’) or are in one of the excluded groups.

Who is in an excluded group?

Those excluded will be people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; people who have lived in England for less than 12 months; those who are not living here voluntarily and those who have nominated someone else to make the decision on their behalf.

People who haven't expressed a decision

In cases, where the individual hasn’t expressed a decision, specialist nurses will support families to make a decision, based on what their loved ones would have wanted. If the decision is not to donate, this will be honoured and upheld.

COVID-19

Very few people die in the circumstances where organ donation is possible and currently, even fewer donations and transplants are taking place. While transplants continue to happen, organ donation will not go ahead, if a potential donor in known to have, or suspected of having, Covid-19. We continue to work closely with transplant centres who are considering re-opening their programmes in a phased return to normal as part of the wider recovery of NHS services.

Devolved Nations

Wales already has an opt out system, after changing their law in December 2015. Jersey introduced the opt out system in July 2019 and Scotland will also be moving to an opt out system in March 2021.

For more information, and to register your decision, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk