Families encouraged to share organ donation wishes at Christmas

Families coming together at Christmas are being encouraged to talk about their organ donation wishes as an advert highlighting changes to the law next year hits TVs.

From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they opt out or are in an exempt group.

A TV advert highlighting the upcoming changes in spring 2020 will air for the first time on Friday,  NHS Blood and Transplant said.

A survey carried out for NHSBT of 2,187 people in England earlier this year found that eight in 10 people would or would consider organ donation, but only a third had told their family of their wishes.

Adults will be encouraged to “Pass it on” by the campaign, either by deciding to pass on their organs when they die, passing on their decision to loved ones or passing on information about the law change.

The advert follows the journey of a woman who releases a red heart-shaped balloon, which symbolises the gift of organ donation, to a waiting patient.

Every year around 1,400 people donate their organs across the UK after death, but a shortage of donors means that hundreds of people on the transplant waiting list are dying each year.

The change is known as Max and Keira’s Law after a boy who received a heart transplant and a girl who donated it.

Families will continue to be consulted, and the process will not go ahead without their support.

Some groups will be exempt from the system, including under-18s, people who lack the capacity to understand the law change and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months.

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year; however, it should also be a time for family and thinking of others.

“We want everyone to know the law around organ donation is changing, to understand how it is changing and the choices available to them.

“We want them to make their organ donation decision and whatever that decision is, to share it with their family.

“A time like Christmas, when families come together, is a good opportunity to do this. Every precious organ donor allows more families to spend special times together.”

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