Organ donor ‘opt-out’ system approved. How does this effect you?


Image result for heart life line gif

GIF Credit: TheCat5001

What does the opt-out system mean? The UK government recently changed the process of how we choose whether we want to be part of the organ donor list. What does this mean for you?

First of all what is organ donation? It is when a healthy person gives an organ to someone who needs a transplant. There is no age limit on becoming a donor, but it is preferred that the donor doesn’t smoke or drink excessively and is generally in good health.

Wales made the switched to ‘presumed consent’ in 2015, meaning all deceased are automatically considered for organ donation. The rest of the UK are following suit as the bill has been passed and is now being finalised in the Houses of Parliament. The ‘opt-out’ system ensures that there are enough people on the donor list and will help to increase the amount of lives saved by organ donations.

Theresa May stated that in 2016 about “500 people died because a suitable organ was not available” to them, this new system can prevent this from happening again. Wales’ organ donations rose by 7% within the first year of the law change, consequently decreasing the list of people waiting for a transplant.

The previous system asks those who wish to become organ donors to visit the NHS website to fill out a form, which only takes a couple of minutes to complete. On the form, it allows you to select which of your organs you are comfortable with donating and if you wish to donate any tissue as well. Once the form is completed and sent off, you should receive an organ donor’s card.

It is also suggested that if you wish to become a donor, that you tell your friends and family about your decision, as they will be consulted about it after you die. This system doesn’t provide enough organ donors, so the ‘opt-out’ system was proposed.


Image Credit: JennyHursit/Kindey Research UK

The first reading of the bill was in July 2017 and it passed the second reading in February 2018, and is now being drawn up. It was brought to parliament by Geoffrey Robinson MP, and was passed without division. An individual must ‘opt-out’ if they do not wish to donate their organs after they die, otherwise ‘presumed content’ will take effect.

Some people say that there needn’t be a change in the law as it can shift the ownership of one’s body from being in charge of your own body to it being a possession of the state. It is preferred by some that a scheme be introduced to encourage people to become donors. Also, it can be uncomfortable to ‘opt-out’ as those who choose not to become organ donors may feel judged for their decision regardless of their reasons.

What organs can be donated?

  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Pancreas
  • Small intestine
  • Tissue (from heart valves, skin, bone, tendons, eyes etc)
  • Corneas (tissue at the front of your eye)


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