Organ donation is giving an organ to someone else who needs a transplant. Organ donation is an amazingly generous act and saves thousands of lives in the UK every year. However, this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate.
To find out more about Organ donation and the process for joining the Organ Donor Register, please watch this video.
There are three different ways to donate. These are:
- Donation following brain death (DBD): When a person is diagnosed as dead through Neurological Criteria testing. This person would have had a severe brain injury and permanently lost the potential for consciousness and the capacity to breathe. This may happen even when a ventilator is keeping the person's heart beating and oxygen is circulated through their blood.
- Donation following circulatory death (DCD): When a person is diagnosed as dead through circulatory determination. This is when a person has irreversible loss of function of the heart and lungs after a cardiac arrest from which the person cannot or should not be resuscitated. It can also be the planned withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from a person cared for in a critical care environment.
- Living donation: Whilst you are still alive you can choose to donate through a medical operation a kidney (most commonly), in some cases a small section of your liver or lung or discarded bone from a hip or knee replacement and amniotic membrane (placenta). You can find out more about living donation here.
We will only use organs from a donor with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die.
If you want to make a real difference by being an organ or tissue donor after your death, there are two important steps you need to take:
- Join the NHS Organ Donor Register
- Tell your family and friends that you have joined the register and want to be a donor so they can support your decision
Learn more about what your consent to organ donation means.
Everyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register regardless of age, as long as they are:
- legally capable of making the decision, and
- live in the UK.
Organ donation law in England is changing... Pass it on!
From spring 2020, 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. This is commonly referred to as an ‘opt out’ system. You may also hear it referred to as 'Max and Keira's Law'.
More about the opt out system
If there is no recorded decision for you on the NHS Organ Donor Register, it will be considered that you agree to be an organ donor when you die.
Organ donation remains an act of great generosity. Adults covered by the change in the law will still have a choice about whether they want to be an organ donor and their families will be consulted about donating their organs when they die.
If you would like to speak to somebody about your choices, please call the dedicated line: 0300 303 2094
Why is the law changing?
Every day, around three people die in need of an organ, because not enough organs are available for transplant.
However, only 1% of people die in circumstances that would allow them to donate.
The law is being changed to help save and improve more lives.
When is the law changing?
The opt out system in England will come into effect from spring 2020.
The law around organ donation in England will remain ‘opt in’ until this time.
Download the factsheet here
What do I have to do?
Whatever you decide, make sure you tell your family, so that they can help to ensure your choice is honoured.
Tell your family
It is essential to tell your family whether or not you want to be an organ donor.
You can record a decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register to opt in, or opt out, but your family will be asked to support your decision, when the time comes.
Did you know?
If there is no recorded decision for you, your family will be asked if they have any information that shows whether or not you wanted to donate.
Which groups are excluded from this change?
- 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
What is the NHS Organ Donor Register?
The NHS Organ Donor Register is a database that holds the details of all those who have registered a decision about organ donation, whether they have decided to donate or not. Registering on the NHS Organ Donor Register and telling your family are the best ways to ensure your decision is honoured when you die.
Want to talk about opt out?
Call 0300 303 2094
All information on this page is available here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/uk-laws/organ-donation-law-in-england/