The Government has outlined plans to implement a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England which is expected to come into effect in spring 2020.
The announcement follows a consultation earlier this year, in which the Government sought views from members of the public and received an unprecedented 17,000 responses.
Under the proposals, 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 will be excluded from the plans to ensure the system is fair. There will also be strict safeguards in place and Specialist Nurses will always discuss donation with families so an individual’s wishes are respected.
The Organ Donor Register (ODR) will include an option for individuals to state important religious and cultural beliefs and, from December 2018, will also include the option for those people registering to state that their faith is important to their organ donation decision.
Anthony Clarkson, Interim Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation said:
“The decision on opt out legislation in England is a matter for Parliament and any changes will only take place when Parliament agrees to them. Under the proposed system, you would be a donor unless you make it clear that you don’t want to donate.”
While the new system shifts the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation, those who do not wish to donate their organs will still be able to record their decision on the ODR.
The NHS app, launching at the end of this year, will also make it simpler for people to record their decision.
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 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.”
There will be a 12-month transition period to allow time for discussion with friends and family about organ donation preferences ahead of the new system coming into effect in spring 2020.
The legislation is expected to return to the House of Commons in the autumn.
The Government’s report on the consultation can be read in full here.