Five important things to know about the new opt out organ donation law

From 20 May 2020, all adults in England are automatically considered potential organ donors following the introduction of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill.

Five important things to know about the new opt out organ donation law

From understanding why the new bill is being enforced to how it impacts you and how you can opt out, the experts at JMP Solicitors have compiled a list of everything you need to know and do to make sure you and your loved ones wishes are honored.

The new opt out organ donation act is a really positive change for healthcare in England. It will help to save a huge amount of lives because there was such a low opt in rate with the old law.

It’s important that everyone is aware of the new changes to the law and of all the options available to them, to make sure that their wishes are honored. We hope to see a decrease in the number of people on the organ waiting list once the act is implemented. The new organ donation law system is a positive move towards having your voice heard and wishes honored.”

Yvonne Carratt, director and specialist in wills, trusts and probate law at JMP Solicitors

Here are five things you need to know about the new opt out organ donation law:

1. Opt in rate is currently low for donations

The current law means that you have to opt in for organ donation. Recent statistics show that while 80% of people in England support organ donation, only 38% have opted in to donate – leaving families in a potentially difficult situation, surrounded by uncertainty and forced to make hard decisions when a loved one is deceased.

2. Why the change?

The new system for organ donation, aka the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill, is being introduced to increase the amount of potential organ donors to help save the lives of those waiting for an organ transplant in the UK. It received Royal Assent on 15 March, which means the bill is an act of parliament. The Organ Donation Act is otherwise known as ‘Max and Keira’s law’ to honor a boy who received a heart transplant from a girl donor.

3. How many people will this save?

The aim of the act is to save more lives. With more than 6,000 people currently waiting for an organ transplant in the UK and three people on the waiting list dying each day, the new law aims to reduce the long list of patients waiting for a life-saving transplant.

4. Who’s excluded:

  • Children under the age of 18
  • People who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes for a significant period before death
  • People who haven’t lived in England for at least 12 months before their death

5. How you can prepare

Visit the NHS Organ Donation Register link, and choose from the following options:

  • Opt in to the register – to choose to donate organs
  • Opt out of the register – to record your decision not to be a donor
  • Update or amend your existing record
  • Withdraw from the organ donation register completely


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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