Reforming the System for Organ and Tissue Donation

Death is not a subject we generally like to talk about, but along with taxes it is the other certainty that we all have in life.  Unexpected and sudden deaths of our loved ones are one of the hardest things we experience in life.  At such times, it is understandable that conversations about donating organs can be difficult when relatives are dealing with shock and grief.

The current system of opting in is one we are all used to, but the reality is that many more of us would like to donate our organs when we die than have opted in.  Research shows 82% of people support organ donation, yet only 37% have recorded their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

The Daily Mirror is not a newspaper I usually admire due to its left-wing bias, but I give it credit where due for its commendable campaign for a change to an opt-out system for organ donation.  "Max's Law" is named after Max Johnson, a young boy from Cheshire who was saved by a heart transplant.  His search for a suitable heart was followed in a series of front-page stories in the Daily Mirror.  Last year, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to him, saying she chose the name after she heard his inspirational story.

Last Sunday, the Government outlined plans to implement a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation.  These plans will mean everyone is considered an organ donor unless they have explicitly recorded a wish not to be or they are from one of a number of excluded groups.  There will be strict safeguards in place and specialist nurses will always discuss donation with families so an individual’s wishes are respected.

The proposed system is expected to come into effect in spring 2020 and there will be a 12-month transition to allow time for discussion with friends and family about organ donation preferences.  It is estimated that this change will save up to 700 lives each year in England, which if adjusted for population I estimate would translate to one life every month in Crawley.


Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group

8th August 2018