Organ donation

This week the Government announced proposed changes to the organ donation system in England in order to tackle a shortage of donors.

The changes, which will be considered in Parliament in the autumn, mean everyone will be considered as an organ donor unless they ‘opt out’ or they are in one of the groups excluded from the new plans.

The announcement follows a Government consultation which attracted more than 17,000 responses.

As of the end of March this year, there were 5,100 people waiting for an organ transplant.

Although the majority of people say they would donate their organs, a much smaller percentage of people are actually registered organ donors.

In England, there are more than 40,000 people alive today thanks to organ donation, but sadly due to a shortage of donors, three people die every day while waiting for an organ.

The new rules, which are due to be implemented in 2020, will follow a year-long transition period to inform the public and allow time for people to discuss their organ donation preferences.

The new system means everyone will be considered an organ donor unless they have explicitly recorded a wish not to be or they are from one of the excluded groups. These are children under 18, individuals who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes and people who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death.

Those who don’t want to donate can record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, either via NHS Blood and Transplant’s website or by calling their helpline. To make it easier for people to record their wishes, the NHS is planning to launch an app at the end of this year. 

Prior to these changes being implemented, families should talk about this difficult subject so they are aware of each other’s wishes, as well as fully understanding the changes being proposed.

As a registered organ donor, I welcome these proposals and I hope they will help save hundreds of lives every year.