The law around organ donation in England is changing

From Spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered to agree to their organs and tissue being donated when they die, unless they ‘opt-out’.

The new law change is hoped to prompt discussions as to whether someone would like to be an organ donor or not and to make sure their families and friends know their wishes.

Most people support organ donation in principle and would be willing to donate their organs after their death. However, many people do not make this decision clear either by signing on to the NHS Organ Donor Register or telling their family. The change in law is better believed to reflect what most people want to happen and will help save and improve more lives.

Three people on average die each day across the UK waiting for an organ transplant. But only 1% of people die in circumstances that would allow them to donate.

Donating organs and tissue after death can help save or improve the lives of others, with one organ donor generously and significantly improving the lives of up to nine people, plus many more if they also choose to donate tissue.

For those that wish to ‘opt-out’ once the new law has come in, they can do so by registering a ‘refuse to donate’ decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. The new law will not apply to the following excluded groups:

  • people under 18
  • people who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action
  • people who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death
  • people who are not living here voluntarily.

For those that do wish to donate their organs after their death, they can do so by registering on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Families will still be asked to make a decision on behalf of their adult family members that have not officially registered as organ donors on the donor register. Having open and honest conversations about organ donation and discussing wishes after death is important to help families support and honour their deceased’s choice.

The new law will apply to following:

  • people over 18
  • people not in an excluded group.

To find out more and to register your decision, visit

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