Government announces shake up of organ donation system

The government has outlined plans to implement a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation across England.

Proposals are expected to come into place in the spring of 2020 with a view to save hundreds of lives each year under plans to change the law on organ donation.

A new system of consent will mean everyone is considered an organ donor unless they have explicitly recorded a wish not to be or they are from an excluded group.

Exclusions will apply for those individuals who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes and children under 18. People who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death will also be excluded.

Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, said: “Organ donation saves lives. We believe that by making these changes, we can save as many as 700 more lives every year.

“But organ donation remains a gift. I want to encourage people who wish to give life in the event of their death to take the time to record their wishes and discuss it with their family.

“However, we know this new system alone is not a magic bullet. We need to address myths and misconceptions around donation, and we will only do this by having informed debate and dialogue, which I hope will be fostered by these proposals.”

The donor register will include an option for individuals to state important religious and cultural beliefs to ensure these are respected.

Strict safeguards will be in place and specialist nurses will discuss donation with families so an individual’s wishes are respected.

The proposed new system will have a 12-month transition period to allow time for discussion with friends and family about organ donation preferences.

Legislation was introduced in Parliament last July and is expected to return to the House of Commons in the autumn.

People who do not wish to donate their organs will still be able to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, either via NHS Blood and Transplant’s website or by calling their helpline.

The NHS app, launching at the end of this year, will make it even easier for people to record their decision.