On Friday 15 March, the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill passed into law. The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act, also known as Max and Keira’s law, will change the system of organ donation in England from opt-in to opt-out, meaning most adults will be considered organ donors unless they opt out. The new law will take effect from 2020.
In our report, Human bodies: donation for medicine and research, we address a number of ethical questions regarding consent for organ donation. Throughout the passage of this Bill we have been working to raise awareness of the key factors needed to ensure that an opt-out system for organ donation can proceed ethically, including:
- there must be measures in place – for example, through sustained public awareness campaigns – that encourage people to express and document their wishes about organ donation during their lifetime;
- there should be appropriate support for families to remain central to the organ donation process; and
- there must be adequate infrastructure in place to support the organ donation process, including further investment in specialist nurses given their proven value both in supporting bereaved families and in enabling others to benefit from the gift of organ donation.
You can read about our report and the work we have been doing to inform the current discussion around opt-out organ donation here.