Organ Donation- Law Change

20th May 2020 - Date of Change For Organ Donation

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

The new opt out system came into effect on Wednesday 20th May 2020 following the passage of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act last year.

You will have seen 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 now that the law change has come into effect.

We’re pleased to say over 60% of people over 16 are already aware that the law has changed and we expect this to increase further.  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 date of the law change, 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 change, 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.

The new system will only cover organs and tissue for routine transplants

Certain organs and tissues will not be part of the opt out system (for example limbs, face etc). 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.  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, responsible for engaging with our BAME stakeholders and faith and beliefs organisations. You can email her on

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