MP backs new ‘opt-out’ rules for organ donation

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has backed a call to save lives by changing the rules to require opt-out from organ donation.

Mr Herbert gave his support to the campaign to encourage organ donation at an event in Parliament on Wednesday 5 September.

The event was jointly organised by NHS Blood & Transplant and Kidney Care UK.  MPs heard how three people die every day in the UK because they are in need of an organ.  Families are encouraged to talk about organ donation and to make it clear that they have registered to help save lives.

In the Arundel & South Downs constituency almost half of residents have registered to be an organ donor – 49.1 per cent, compared to a national figure of just 39.1 per cent.  However, in other parts of the country the figure is much lower, below 10 per cent in some areas of Birmingham for example.

Despite more people opting into organ donation there is still an urgent shortage of donors around the country.

In February, MPs gave their backing to a Bill which is seeking to change current legislation.  The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill would make automatically enrol adults onto an organ donation register law, unless they expressly choose to opt-out.  The Bill, known as Max’s Law after 10 year-old Max Johnson who received a life-saving heart transplant, completed its Committee stage in the House of Commons last week (12 September) and is due to have its Report stage and Third Reading on Friday 26 October 2018.

If the Bill is passed, the new ‘opt-out’ register could be in place for all adults in England by Spring 2020.  Wales already has a similar system in place since 2015, and Scotland is looking to do the same.

Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, said: “Last year more than 400 people died whilst waiting for a transplant, so it is vital that we find ways to help save lives.  With around 6,000 people waiting for that life-changing call, and 80 per cent of these hoping for a kidney transplant, we are urging people to have a chat with their families and make sure they know how you feel about organ donation.”

Mr Herbert said: “While it’s encouraging that almost half of the adults in my constituency have registered to be an organ donor, more than the national average, this still means that a huge number have not, even though their donation could help to save a life.

“This is why I support legislation for an automatic enrolment system from which people would have to ‘opt-out’.  No-one will be forced to donate their organs if they don’t want to.  I think it’s a sensible proposal which will save lives.”


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