Ministers propose plans to introduce opt-out organ donation in England by 2020

August 7th, 2018
Ministers propose plans to introduce opt-out organ donation in England by 2020

Health ministers have outlined plans to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation in England by 2020.

Under new guidelines proposed by the government, which are known collectively as Max’s Law, adults will automatically be presumed donors unless they opt out of organ donation. An opt-out system was introduced in Wales in 2015 and Scotland is planning to introduce a similar scheme.

Max’s Law is named after Max Johnson. At the age of 10, Max, from Cheshire, was waiting for a heart transplant, and his story captured the hearts of the nation after being documented in the press. Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to Max, saying that his tale had inspired her to choose the name for the organ donation campaign. After searching for a suitable donor, Max’s life was saved by a transplant, and ministers are hoping that than an opt-out system could help to save many more people. It is estimated that around 700 lives could be saved each year if new guidelines are approved.

In 2017, 411 people died while waiting for a suitable donor in England and there are currently approximately 5,000 people on a waiting list for donor organs.

The government drew up new legislation for a change in the donation system in 2017, and the House of Commons will take a vote on Max’s Law in autumn this year. If plans are given the green light, the opt-out system should be in place by spring 2020, which allows for a period of transition.

Organ donation is a subject that is difficult to talk about, and in many cases, families are forced to make decisions very quickly at a time that is incredibly challenging. The government is encouraging families and couples to talk about their attitudes to organ donation and to discuss the possibility of donating organs so that people are aware of whether their loved ones would have wanted to be donors in the tragic event of their death.

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