What does new organ donor law mean for you?

Gemma Sturge and her son Austin. Photo: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Gemma Sturge and her son Austin. Photo: Queen Elizabeth Hospital - Credit: QEH

A new organ donation law aimed at boosting the number of transplants has come into effect, giving hope to people waiting on life-saving operations.

Most adults in England are now automatically considered organ donors, after a change in legislation which was brought about thanks to campaigning by a young boy who got a new heart from a nine-year-old girl who died after a car crash.

Max and Keira’s law sees a shift to an opt-out system, whereby those aged 18 and over are deemed to have given consent to donate their own organs when they die, unless they explicitly state otherwise or are in an excluded group.

Keira Ball saved four lives, including that of Max Johnson, also aged nine at the time, after her father allowed doctors to use her organs for transplants following a crash in 2017.

It is hoped the law, which takes effect from today, will lead to an extra 700 transplants each year by 2023, and spark conversations around organ donation.

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Anthony Clarkson, director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), said: “We hope this law change will prompt all of us to consider whether or not we would want to donate our organs and encourage us all to register and share our decision with our family and friends.”

He added people still had a choice on whether or not to donate, and reassured the public that families will still be consulted, and faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected.

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A Norfolk mother-of-two, whose life was saved by a kidney transplant, praised organ donation as the best thing anyone can do.

Gemma Sturge, from Reffley in King’s Lynn, received a kidney from a 12-year-old girl in 2012, when it was discovered her own organ had not grown properly.

She had previously welcomed the law change, saying: “Organ donation gives someone the chance of a longer life. Who knows how long I would be alive for if it hadn’t had a transplant.

“Being on dialysis is not pleasant. You are very unwell between treatments and you are restricted. I feel like a normal healthy person now. I can do anything my heart desires. I’ve got a life. Organ donation is the best thing anyone can do. It is amazing.”

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