Lives expected to be saved as thousands of Northumberland residents added to organ donor register under new law

Thousands of Northumberland residents could be added to the organ donor register in three months’ time, in a law change aimed at saving more lives.

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 2:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 2:01 pm
File picture from an organ donor awareness drive

This week, the Government has announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, Max and Keira’s Law – the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act – will come into effect on May 20 this year.

From that point, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate – what’s known as opt out – or are in one of the excluded groups.

Those excluded will be people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily.

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Even after the law changes, families will still be involved before any organ or tissue donation goes ahead and NHS Blood and Transplant specialist nurses will continue to speak with families about their loved one’s decision.

In Northumberland, there were 141,191 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register as at January 5 this year, a fairly significant proportion of the adult population.

However, despite this and the fact that 12 transplants took place in 2018-19, there were still 29 people on the active transplant list at the end of 2019.

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We hope that the new law encourages more people to record their donation decision and talk about organ donation with their families.

“It is important for people to know that they can do this at any time before or after the law comes into effect, there is no deadline for making your donation decision.”

He added: “The majority of people tell us that they support organ donation in principle, yet only around four in 10 have actually registered their decision.

“Organ donation is and always will be a precious gift and if more people are inspired to support and agree to donation, then many more lives can be saved.”

For more information, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 303 2094.