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Make your organ donation decision and tell your loved ones this Christmas

20 December 2019

As families gather to celebrate Christmas, NHS Blood and Transplant is urging everyone to take the time to consider and take time to talk about their organ donation decision. The call comes as it launches a TV advertising campaign to highlight the upcoming changes to the law around organ donation in England.

From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups. 

The ‘Pass it on’ campaign aims to motivate people across England to “Pass It On”, whether that’s by making the decision to pass on their organs to save lives; passing on their decision to family and friends or passing on information about the law change to other people.

The TV advert, which is due to air for the first time on 20th December, follows a woman holding a heart shaped balloon. We watch her quietly leave her home and sleeping family and travel by bus as she observes different scenes of life that continue to go on around her.

In the final scene, we see her approach a building as the sun rises, silently releasing the balloon with a smile. A waiting patient reaches out from a window to receive it, symbolising the gift of passing on life through organ donation. The patient looks down and gestures as if to say thank you.

The advert ends with a reminder that the law around organ donation is changing in England from spring 2020 and urging people to find out more and register a decision.

The TV campaign is the next stage of the national organ donation law change awareness campaign, which launched in April this year.

The advert aims to reach people and boost conversations about organ donation at Christmas, while people are together with their families.

The importance of talking about organ donation 

One family who know the importance of having the conversation, are the family of 18-year-old Billy Gradwell-Smith, who died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage in December 2016, while at home from university for the Christmas holidays.

Billy’s father, Trevor explains:

“When we were told Billy wasn’t going to make it, we already knew he wanted to donate his organs. He was a fantastic, positive kid and had made sure to tell the family after signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register while applying for his provisional driving licence.

“He started a discussion with the three of us and we sat around and talked about it. As a direct result of this discussion we had already prepared as a family for the question by the time we were approached by the specialist nurse for organ donation.

“Billy was all for donating everything, anything that could be of use to anybody. He said when you are gone you are gone; the organs would be no use to him. By making his decision clear, he made a difficult situation easier for us, and ensured he didn’t miss the opportunity to save lives.”

Once the new system is introduced across England, families will still be involved before any organ or tissue donation goes ahead and specialist nurses for organ donation will continue to speak with families about their loved one’s decision.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, says:

“Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year; however, it should also be a time for family and thinking of others.

“We want everyone to know the law around organ donation is changing, to understand how it is changing and the choices available to them. We want them to make their organ donation decision and whatever that decision is, to share it with their family.

A time like Christmas, when families come together, is a good opportunity to do this. Every precious organ donor allows more families to spend special times together.”

Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care said:

 

“Becoming an organ donor is one of the most incredible acts that you can do for someone else.

 

“We have made huge progress and thanks to Max and Keira’s Law, more people will have access to life-saving organs. But there is still more we can do.

 

“This Christmas, have a conversation with your family about organ donation and how you could all pass on the gift of life to others.”

Changes to organ donation in 2020

In 2020, the law around organ donation will be changing in both England and Scotland.

From spring 2020 in England and Autumn 2020 in Scotland, everyone will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, what’s known as ‘opt out’, or are in one of the excluded groups.

This system was introduced in Wales in December 2015 and in Jersey in July this year.