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New ‘opt-out’ system for organ donation in England announced by ministers

The British Liver Trust welcomes plans for a new opt-out system for organ donation in England.  The plans, which are expected to come into effect in spring 2020, will mean consent for organ donation after death is presumed unless the person has opted-out. 

The UK Government announced proposals to introduce a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England to tackle the shortage of donors and help those waiting for life-saving transplants.

There are currently around 9,700 people in the UK who are alive today because they have had a successful liver transplant.

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Communications and Policy said, “The UK is currently facing an epidemic in liver disease with the numbers affected having increased by more than 400% in the last forty years. Every year hundreds of people die whilst waiting for a liver to become available. The British Liver Trust has been campaigning on this issue for a number of years and we are delighted that England is planning to move to an opt-out system as we believe this will lead to an increase in organ donation. At the moment, we just don’t have enough donors to meet demand.”

The opt-out system will exclude children under 18, individuals who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes and people who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death.

Proposals include an option on the NHS organ donor register for people to state important religious and cultural beliefs to ensure they are respected and there will be strict safeguards in place.

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