The changes are called Max and Keira’s Law, after a boy who received a heart transplant from a girl who was fatally injured in a car accident.
It turns on its head the previous system, under which a person had to “opt in,” i.e. to give consent to donate their organs.
The UK House of Commons has approved the bill that will introduce a “presumed consent” policy in organ donation.
According to the new law, starting from 2020, Britons over the age of 18 will no longer have to opt in to donate their organs, and their consent to donate will be presumed unless they object to it explicitly or unless they are in an excluded group.
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This system only applies to deceased donations and does not cover donations from living people or for research purposes. Family members will be able to prevent the organs of the deceased person from being donated if they deem that this person would have opted out.
The bill was introduced to the House of Lords by Lord Hunt, who told the BBC that “as a result, many more organs will be donated and lives saved as a consequence.”
It was named Max and Keira’s Law after two children whose story made headlines in the UK last year.
Keira Ball, 9, died following a car accident in July 2017, and her parents agreed that her organs — heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas — be donated to four other people.
In 2018, her heart saved the life of 10-year-old Max Johnson, who was dying from heart failure and whose blood had been circulating due to a mechanical pump before he received the transplant.
Praising the bill in December, UK Health Secretary (health minister) Jeremy Hunt said that three Britons a day died due to a lack of donors and that there are twice as few people on the donor register than those who say they would agree to donate their organs.
According to NHS Blood and Transplant, there are currently around 6,000 people waiting for a transplant in the UK. In 2017, over 400 people on the register reportedly died without receiving a transplant.
Another 755 people were removed from the waiting list that year because they were too ill to receive a transplant.
The highest donor consent rate across the UK is in Wales (75 percent); it England, it makes up 67 percent, with the nationwide rate also standing at 67 percent. One of the goals is to achieve an 80-percent consent rate in England.
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