Organ Donation- Law Change

20th May 2020 Date of Change For Organ Donation

We wanted to update you about the planned introduction of an opt out system for organ donation in England.

The Government has announced its intention to introduce the new system on Wednesday 20th May 2020 following the passage of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act last year.

Over the next two weeks, you will see this 20th May date start to appear in our TV, radio and social media advertising.  We have planned the advertising around the communications campaign so that it increases in intensity as we get nearer to the date that the law change comes into effect.

We’re pleased to say over 60% of people over 16 are already aware that the law is changing and we expect this to increase further before the law change.  We still have more work to do though, as awareness levels among black, Asian and minority ethnic people are lower than the general population.

We’re grateful for your support so far in helping to ensure that people have accurate information about what’s happening and their choices. We hope your support will continue in raising awareness.

Reminder about the opt out system

From the time the law changes, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate (also known as ‘opt out’), or are in one of the excluded groups.

Those excluded will be people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily.

There is no deadline for people to make their decision. They can record or amend their donation decision at any time on the NHS Organ Donor Register before or after the opt out system comes into effect.

Even after the law changes, families will still be involved before any organ or tissue donation goes ahead and NHS Blood and Transplant Specialist Nurses will continue to speak with families about their loved one’s decision.

Draft regulations laid in Parliament to ensure the new system will only cover organs and tissue for routine transplants

The Government has presented draft regulations to Parliament today, setting out the organs and tissues which will not be part of the opt out system (for example limbs, face etc), following a full 12-week public consultation last year. This is an additional safeguard to ensure that only organs and tissue used for routine transplants are included in the new system, to help those on a waiting list. Further information about the consultation and the Government’s response is available at:

Guidance for healthcare professionals

The Human Tissue Authority consulted on their practical guidance about how the new system should be operated by healthcare professionals working in organ donation and transplantation. The guidance will come in the form of a revised Code of Practice that has been laid in Parliament ahead of the new system coming into force.  This revised Code will help to guide organ and tissue donation and transplantation professionals working in England on the day-to-day application of the new deemed consent system. Please contact the Human Tissue Authority directly if you have any questions about the updated Code of Practice.

Many thanks to those of you who took the time to respond to the Government’s public consultation on which organs and tissue should be excluded from the opt out system and to the Human Tissue Authority’s consultation around their revised Code of practice.  Your input was hugely important.

If you have any questions about any of the above information, please do not hesitate to contact Geraldine Parker-Smith, my colleague responsible for engaging with our BAME stakeholders and faith and beliefs organisations. You can email her on

Kindest Regards

Professor John Forsythe

Medical Director, Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, NHS Blood and Transplant

© 2016 by NCVA