On 20 May 2020, the law around organ donation will change, with all adults in England presumed as agreeing to be an organ donor when they die, unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

This is excellent news for the thousands of people who are on the organ donor list awaiting transplants. As we have reported previously, Black people wait on average longer than white counterparts to receive an organ. The African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) are understandably thrilled at the new opt out organ donation system which will have a positive impact on the shortage of organs available for transplant.

Orin Lewis OBE, ACLT co-founder and CEO said: “6,000 people across the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly many will die waiting. It is for this reason, ACLT is thrilled to hear about the new opt out organ donation system. One in five people who died on the organ transplant waiting list year were from a BAME background, and while we encourage people of all races to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register website, we have a particular focus on engaging with the Black community on this subject matter especially when ethnicity matching is so vital as many from this group are disproportionately affected.”

“6,000 people across the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly many will die waiting. It is for this reason, ACLT is thrilled to hear the new opt out organ donation system.”

There is no doubt that the new opt out organ donation law will be really positive change for healthcare in England. It will help to save a huge amount of lives because there was such a low opt in rate with the old process. However, it is still important to understand the facts around the new law so that we are up to speed with everything we need to know to make sure we and our loved ones wishes are honoured.

We turned to the experts at JMP Solicitors who have listed five things you need to know about the new opt out organ donation law:

organ donation

Opt in rate is currently low for donations

The current law means that you have to opt in for organ donation. Recent statistics show that while 80% of people in England support organ donation, only 38% have opted in to donate – leaving families in a potentially difficult situation, surrounded by uncertainty and forced to make hard decisions when a loved one is deceased.

Why the change?

The new system for organ donation, aka the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill, is being introduced to increase the amount of potential organ donors to help save the lives of those waiting for an organ transplant in the UK. It received Royal Assent on 15 March, which means the bill will be an act of parliament. The Organ Donation Act is otherwise known as ‘Max and Keira’s law’ to honour a boy who received a heart transplant from a girl donor.

How many people will this save?

The aim of the act is to save more lives. With more than 6,000 people currently waiting for an organ transplant in the UK and three people on the waiting list dying each day, the new law aims to reduce the long list of patients waiting for a life-saving transplant.


55177559 - donate helping hands kindness give concept Let’s talk about why we need more black organ donors says ACLT
Image Credit: www.123rf.com.


Who’s excluded?

  • Children under the age of 18
  • People who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes for a significant period before death
  • People who haven’t lived in England for at least 12 months before their death

How you can prepare?

  • Visit the NHS Organ Donation Register link, and choose from the following options:
  • Opt in to the register – to choose to donate organs
  • Opt out of the register – to record your decision not to be a donor
  • Update or amend your existing record
  • Withdraw from the organ donation register completely

The issue of donating organs will always remain a personal decision. To learn the facts, record your decision whilst informing loved ones on whatever your preference may be, please visit: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/

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