Opt out consultation launched

NHS Blood and Transplant welcomes ‘opt out’ consultation and urges a national conversation about organ donation to save lives

11 December 2017

NHS Blood and Transplant has welcomed the launch of the Government’s consultation into a proposed opt-out organ donation system for England.

We urgently need more people to agree to donate: sadly around three people die every day in the UK in need of an organ while more than 1,000 families say no to organ donation every year.

Under the proposed new system you would be a donor unless don’t want to donate.

However NHS Blood and Transplant is reminding people that family conversations are still crucial, and urging people to continue to make it clear to relatives that they want to save lives through donation

The role of families in the donation process is vital because they can help with important information not found in their relative’s medical records, for example their lifestyle and travel history. Those conversations will also make things easier for grieving families at a difficult time.

Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to the lifesaving power of organ donation, which is demonstrated by the desire to hold a consultation into an opt out system.

“We support any initiative which leads to more organ donors and more lives being saved.

“We hope people will join the national conversation about organ donation that the consultation brings. Whatever the consultation decides, make sure your family know what you want. If you support organ donation, act today by telling your family you want to donate and join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

Key statistics (UK wide)

  • There are 6,482 people on the active transplant waiting list, including 155 children, as of November 24th.
  • Last year there were 3,713 transplants thanks to deceased donors.
  • Between April 1 2017 and November 19th 2017, there 952 deceased donors. Over the same period in the previous year, there were 872 deceased donors. During the full 2016/17 financial year there were 1,413 deceased donors.
  • Last year 3,144 families were asked to agree to organ donation. Although 1,972 supported donation, 1,172 families said no. In countries with mature opt out systems, typically many more families support donation. In Spain, for example, fewer than 20% of families refuse to donate.

For more information on organ donation and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk

More information on the consultation


Press Release Notes

NHS Blood and Transplant is a special health authority reporting into the Department of Health. The Department of Health is responsible for the English opt out consultation. During the consultation, NHS Blood and Transplant’s role is to provide a reliable source of information to the public, and to continue to promote organ donation and the importance of family conversations. NHS Blood and Transplant will provide evidence as required to the consultation on organ donation policies and procedures, operational work and statistics, barriers and advances, and on how different organ donation legislation systems could be implemented in practice.

Notes to editors

NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. We are responsible for ensuring a safe and efficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England. We are also the organ donation organisation for the UK and are responsible for matching and allocating donated organs.

We are an essential part of the NHS and take pride in saving and improving lives by making the most of every voluntary donation, from blood and organs to tissues and stem cells.

Our work would not be possible without our donors - ordinary people doing extraordinary things by saving and improving the lives of others.

To find out more visit: www.nhsbt.nhs.uk

It is quick and easy to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or contact our 24 hour a day donor line - 0300 123 23 23.

The register records your decision on whether you want to donate your organs and/or tissue after your death to save and improve the lives of others. It is used by authorised medical staff to establish whether someone has registered an organ donation decision.

Letting your family know your organ donation decision will make it much easier for them to support what you want.

Every day across the UK around three people who could have benefited from a transplant die because there aren’t enough organ donors. We need more people to agree to organ donation.

Anyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register, age and medical conditions are not necessarily a barrier to donation.

One donor can save or transform up to nine lives through organ donation and transform even more by donating tissue.

There is a particular need for more black and Asian organ donors. People from Black and Asian communities have a higher incidence of conditions such as diabetes and certain forms of hepatitis, making them more likely to need a transplant. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic patients make up a third of the active kidney transplant waiting list. Although some are able to receive a transplant from a white donor, for many the best match will come from a donor from the same ethnic background. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic donors are needed to improve the chances of these patients getting the kidney transplant they need.

Whilst there may be some individual concerns relating to religious or cultural practices, all the major religions support organ donation.