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CLDF News

Developments in law around organ donation

Scotland

Legislation to introduce a deemed consent or opt-out system of organ and tissue donation for Scotland gained Royal Assent in July 2019. This is formal confirmation that it will become law.

There will be at least 12 months before the new system is rolled out to ensure that people have been adequately educated and informed about the changes and their choices.

Under the opt-out system, if an adult does not opt in or out of donation or are in one of the excluded groups, most adults in Scotland will be considered to be willing to donate their organs and tissue when they die.

The Bill includes safeguards to ensure that donation will not go ahead where it would be against the person’s wishes.

England

From spring 2020, organ donation in England will move to a deemed consent or opt out system, also referred to as ‘Max and Keira’s Law’. This means that all adults in England will be considered to have agreed 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. You still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die.

Excluded groups in England include:

  • Those under the age of 18
  • People who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action
  •  Visitors to England, and those not living here voluntarily
  •  People who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death

Wales

Wales introduced deemed consent legislation in December 2015. This means that if you haven’t registered an organ and tissue donation decision (opt in or opt out), you will be considered to have no objection to becoming a donor.

You can still opt into the register if you want to do so, but it is not required in order to give consent for donation. You can also nominate up to two representatives to make the decision for you. These could be family members, friends, or other people you trust, such as your faith leader.

Northern Ireland

The current legislation for Northern Ireland is to opt in to organ donation; you can do this by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and sharing your decision with your family. You can also record a decision not to be a donor.

You can also nominate up to two representatives to make the decision for you. These could be family members, friends, or other people you trust, such as your faith leader.

In 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly introduced a new requirement for the Department of Health to promote organ donation as a means of increasing the number of organs available

for transplantation. Outcomes will be reported every 5 years with recommendations on how to further increase donations.

Organ donation law in Guernsey

Guernsey currently supports an ‘opt in’ to organ and tissue donation model. You can do this by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and sharing your decision with your family. You can also record a decision not to be a donor.

Guernsey’s Committee for Health & Social Care has undertaken a consultation on introducing deemed consent including a panel of young people. There was overwhelming support from the consultation exercise for a soft opt-out system of organ donation. The full report can be found on the States of Guernsey website https://www.gov.gg/organdonation. Further action is expected to follow.

Organ donation law in Jersey

New legislation in Jersey which took effect on 1st July 2019 moved to a deemed consent system but with the ability for individuals to opt out if they wish.

Organ donation law on the Isle of Man

The current legislation in the Isle of Man is to opt into organ and tissue donation, you can do this by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register. You can also record a decision not to be a donor.

In 2018 the House of Keys launched a public consultation to seek input from citizens on an ‘opt out’ system. Whilst a minority opposed any changes to the present opt-in system, the majority of respondents were supportive of the possible change. Full details are available on the Isle of Man Government website https://consult.gov.im/office-of-the-clerk-of-tynwald/organ-donation-bill-2018/

CLDF recognises that organ donation is a highly emotive issue and is keenly aware that there is a shortage of donors. Around 6,000 people across the UK are waiting for an organ transplant and there are not enough organs available.

CLDF supports any system which increases the number of organs available for donation and it’s important to remember that whichever system is in place organ donation cannot take place without involvement from family.

This year during organ donation week, CLDF are asking everyone to:

1. Record your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register

2. Tell your family and friends what you have decided #PassItOn You can find further information about organ donation here: www.organdonation.nhs.uk

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