A new organ donation law, known as Max and Keira’s law, came into force in England on 20 May 2020.
It will replace the previous opt-in system, which required individuals to ‘opt-in’ to organ donation on the official register before donation could be approved, with a system of deemed consent, or opt out. From now on, all adults who die in England, apart from those in certain excluded groups, will be considered as potential organ donors, unless they have decided to opt out. Families will still be consulted before any final decision is made, and individual wishes, cultural and religious beliefs will be accepted.
The law was inspired by Max and Keira’s incredible story. When 9-year-old Keira sadly passed away after a road traffic accident in 2017, her family decided to donate her organs. “She had the kindest heart and was the most thoughtful person. I knew she would have wanted to help make other people better,” her dad Joe said.
Max, also aged 9 at the time, had been waiting for a new heart for 196 days after suffering from heart failure. Max is now 12 years old and Keira’s heart is beating strong for him.
The hope is that the new law will boost the chances of the estimated 5,200 people who are currently waiting for life-saving or life-enhancing transplants in England, and it is believed that the new law could save up to 700 lives every year as more organs will be available to be donated.
The law has already been in place in Wales since December 2015 and will be implemented in Scotland from March 2021.
The Chief Executive of the National Kidney Foundation, Andrea Brown, says: “The introduction of Max and Keira’s Law is such an important step forward and will transform so many people’s lives who are living with kidney disease.”
She adds: “It’s important everyone has a conversation with their families about organ donation – so your loved ones know your decision.”
You can easily record your decision to opt-in or opt-out on the NHS Organ Donor website. If you prefer not to record a decision, make sure that you speak with a friend or family member to let them know what your decision is, or keep a written record. You never know, one day that decision might save somebody’s life.