Organ Donation in England

Organ donors, or lack of, are a constant problem all around the world. In June 2017, the BBC published a report on organ donors here in the UK. The article reported that three people a day die in need of organs according to the ‘NHS blood and transplant.’ Despite this shocking statistic, 36% of Britons (23.4 million) are already registered as organ donors which is 20% higher than five years ago. 

The current law in England is based on an ‘opt-in’ system. This means you have to go to ‘NHS Organ Donor Register’ online and register yourself. Fair enough you might say, but with only a third of Britons registered and with such a high avoidable death rate, it is no wonder why campaigners and the government are seeking new ways to encourage or legislate new systems. 

In Wales, they use a ‘deemed consent’ system which has been in place since December 2015. What this essentially means is you are assumed to have given consent as an organ donor unless you physically opt out online. 

After the decision was made in 2015, only 6% of the Welsh population opted out. In the year following the change, 39 organs were transplanted through the ‘deemed consent’ system. It is worth mentioning of course that the ‘deemed consent’ system doesn’t includes children or those who lack the capacity to understand the system. It is a wonderful thing to think that 94% of the Welsh population are potential organ donators. 

Scottish ministers, with the help of ‘The human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland),’ agreed in June 2018 that Scotland will follow the Welsh example and introduce a ‘soft opt-out’ system. The difference here is family members can still intervene if they have strong objections.  The date for the change in legislation is not yet confirmed.

This has only increased pressure on English ministers to adopt a similar system. At the time of writing, Northern Ireland hasn't published any plans to adopt an opt-out system. 

According to research by channel five, 7,000 people at any time in the UK are waiting for an organ. They also state that 1,000 of that number will die waiting due to donation shortages; 200 of which are under the age of 18.

I cannot comprehend the mind of anyone who wouldn't want an ‘opt-out’ system in place here in England. I am sorry to say, that we Britons can be a little lazy when it comes to being charitable. Thats why people knock on our doors asking for money, organ donation campaigns on social media and oxfam adverts on our TV. When did you last sit down and think: “i’m going to choose a charity to support today?” I would cautiously suggest that if we were never prompted, many of us wouldn't give to charity. 

With this in mind, why not have an ‘opt-out’ system? If you have your own religious reasons that doesn't allow you to donate your organs, then go online and opt out. I would also cautiously suggest that if you ‘cant be bothered’ to go online and opt out then you can't have very strong religious convictions. 

Theresa Mays government had indicated that the opt-out system could be in place by April 2020. In the meantime, you can go to and register yourself as an organ donor. The NHS will send you a card to keep in your wallet or you can download your own. 

One of the most important things about being an organ donator is making sure you share your wishes with your family. It would be an unnecessary shock for your family to find out last minute that you registered as an organ donor, especially if you are from a culture or religious disposition that would cause conflict of opinions. 


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