It’s Organ Donation Week ‘Do you know the laws around donation?’
In 2020 the law around organ donation in England changed to an opt-out system, to enable more people to save more lives. This means that unless you choose to opt out, or are in an excluded group, you will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when you die.
Those excluded will be people under 18, people who lack mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action, people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily.
Although the system has changed, organ donation remains your choice and families will still be involved before organ donation goes ahead.
Your family can override your decision, so it’s important that you talk with them about organ donation and whether you’d want to be a donor. That way, if your family are ever involved in discussions about organ donation, they will have the certainty to support your decision at a difficult time.
If you don’t have family, or want to ask someone else to support your decision, such as a faith leader, your GP or a good friend, you can nominate a representative instead.
Every day in the UK, someone dies waiting for an organ transplant, because there just aren’t enough organ donors.
There are currently more than 5000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the UK, and while more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are receiving transplants than ever before, Black and Asian patients still wait longer than white patients for a transplant.
Although people can receive a transplant from someone of any ethnicity, the best match will often come from a donor of the same ethnicity.
Only around 5000 people across the UK each year die in circumstances where they could donate their organs.
If you want to donate your organs after you die you could save and improve the lives of up to nine people, and help even more if you donate tissue such as heart valves, skin, bone, tendons and corneas.
We know many people don’t want to think about their own death. But patients waiting for a transplant depend on people of all ages thinking about whether they want to save lives when they die and registering their decision to become a donor.
If you want to save lives, your age and any medical conditions you have, should not stop you from signing up as a donor and talking to your family about your decision to donate.
We need as many people as possible to register their decision whether or not they want to be an organ donor. That way if someone dies in circumstances where their organs or tissue could be used to help others, authorised NHS staff can see what they wanted to happen.
The best way to make your decision known is to record it on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your loved ones. There are tips on the organ donation website which could help start the conversation.