The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill has received Royal Assent in the House of Lords today and will now become Max and Keira’s Law.
Max and Keira's Law
- Under the Organ Donation Act, adults in England will be considered potential donors unless they choose to opt out or are excluded
- Prime Minister Theresa May hails this as a momentous step for those waiting for life saving organs
- A public awareness campaign will be launched to help the public understand their choices
The Organ Donation Act - known as Max and Keira's law in honour of a boy who received a heart transplant and the girl who donated it - will mean adults in England will be considered potential donors unless they chose to opt out or are excluded.
The Prime Minister has thanked campaigners for their support in getting this law passed, which will reduce the numbers of people waiting for a life-saving transplant – currently over 6,000 in the UK.
It marks a momentous step for thousands of people in need of a life-saving transplant, and could save as many as 700 lives a year.Prime Minister Theresa May
With 80% of people in England supporting organ donation but only 38% having recorded their wishes, families are often left with a difficult decision when a loved one dies.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I’m delighted Max and Keira’s law has passed today. It marks a momentous step for thousands of people in need of a life-saving transplant, and could save as many as 700 lives a year.
“With significantly more people willing to consider organ donation than are actually registered as donors, this vital step will presume consent unless people choose to opt out of being a donor.
It’s important that everyone takes the time to discuss their choices on donation with their families and register their wishes, whatever their preference may be. I also want to thank those who have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of this issue, and pay particular tribute to Max, Keira and their families for making this historic change happen.”
Before the changes to the way consent is granted take effect in 2020, a public awareness campaign will be launched to make sure people understand the new system and the choices they have.
Under the new law, being an organ donor will still be your choice – organ donation will remain a priceless gift.Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities
Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities said:
“This is a remarkable change that will make a real difference to so many lives and it has been a privilege to have supported the efforts of so many brilliant campaigners to pass Max’s and Keira’s law. The new system will mean hundreds more lives are saved every year.
“Organ donation is a deeply personal decision for everyone which is why we will be launching a public awareness campaign to ensure people understand the new system and the choices available to them.
“Under the new law, being an organ donor will still be your choice – organ donation will remain a priceless gift.”
Fiona Loud, Policy Director for Kidney Care UK, said: “Today represents an extraordinary opportunity to transform the lives of those waiting for a transplant, as the introduction of Max and Keira’s Law is a landmark moment in organ donation and transplantation. The law gives so much hope to the thousands of people waiting for a kidney, as sadly every single day one person still dies in need of a kidney transplant.
“Changing the law doesn't change the importance of people talking to their families about their organ donation decision. We look forward to playing our part in the important next steps of developing the education and resources that will be required to enable more transplants to take place, more lives to be saved and more dreams to be fulfilled.”
Kidney Charities Together
The Kidney Charities Together Group1, said: “With 8 out of 10 people on the waiting list needing a kidney transplant, this is life changing news. There has been a huge amount of public support for Max and Keira’s Law, and it’s inspiring to see so much focus on organ donation over the last 18 months. Although this change is a major boost for kidney patients waiting for a transplant, it is only the first step.
“We must urgently improve infrastructure and clinical practice to make sure that, if the number of organs being donated rises as a result of the Bill, they are not wasted and reach the people with kidney disease that need them. And crucially, we must all continue to focus on ensuring transplanted organs work better and last longer.
“For now, we must keep the momentum going and support the change in the law with an increased focus on awareness and education. Whatever choice people make about whether to donate their organs, let’s keep the conversation going and make sure all of our loved ones know how we feel and the decision we have taken.”
While the new system shifts the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation, those who do not wish to donate their organs will still be able to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register – either via NHS Blood and Transplant’s website or by calling their helpline or the new NHS App.
There will be a 12-month transition period to allow people to understand the changes, make their decision and discuss this with friends and family ahead of the new system coming into effect in spring 2020.
The Government will set out in the near future how novel transplants will be excluded from the scope of the legislation.
Those who wish to opt in or out, will still be able to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register website.
1 The Kidney Charities Together group comprises of four leading UK kidney charities: The National Kidney Federation, Kidney Care UK, Kidney Research UK and the Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity. The group work together to raise awareness of kidney disease and co-ordinate the World Kidney Day campaign activities in the UK every year.