By Spring of next year everyone in the UK will become an organ donor under a new law.
Under the new system, which will be known as Max’s Law, everyone will be presumed to be a donor unless they explicitly opt out.
The new system is to be introduced after a consultation earlier in the year, which drew 17,000 responses from the public showing the majority were overwhelmingly in favour of organ donation. However, only a minority have registered as organ donors.
It is said that about 700 lives a year will be saved by the new organ donation law, which will be known as Max’s Law after Max Johnson, a 10-year-old boy who was saved by a heart transplant.
UK’s Department of Health and Social Care says there will be a one year introductory period to give people time to register their wishes before it takes effect.
Currently, would-be donors must indicate their intentions on the NHS Organ Donor Register, or grieving families must make the decision if a patient’s wish to donate is unknown.
While research shows that 82 per cent of people in England support organ donation, only 37pc have indicated so on the register.
Under 18s, people with limited mental capacity and others who have not lived in England for at least a year prior to their death will be exempt from the scheme.
At the moment fewer than half of families give consent for their loved one’s organs to be donated.
Last year, about 411 people in the UK died on the transplant waiting list.
The new system will record an individual’s faith and ensure the NHS consults religious leaders or family members on any traditions that need to be respected will be in effect from December 2018. Staff will receive extra training on these issues.
The government also announced new plans to change the law for organ and tissue donation to address the urgent need for organs within Indian-origin communities in the country.
The proposed new system of consent for organ and tissue donation is expected to come into effect in England in 2020 as part of a drive to help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people desperately waiting for a life-saving transplant.
The UK currently follows the opt-in system, whereby families’ decision to donate organs of their loved one after death is discretionary.
Now it is moving towards adopting legislation favouring the opt-out system to address the growing crisis in the country.
“Incentive does not need to be a dirty word. Incentivising organ donation can correct the imbalance between takers and givers in a society, where a few weeks or months longer on the waiting list for organs can mean the difference between life and death,” say experts.
The UAE passed its first law on organ transplants in 1993, where transplants were allowed between living donors who were related.
This meant that only kidneys and parts of the liver could legally be transplanted in the country, as organs like the heart and lungs can only be acquired from brain-dead persons.
The UAE’s revised organ transplant law came into effect in March 2017.
Today the country has its own multi-organ transplant programme at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, but the absence of a nationwide donor registry means that residents must still rely on family members to provide consent for organ donation after their death.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention is preparing a national donors’ registry. Anyone in the UAE regardless of nationality can become a donor or recipient of an organ during a transplant surgery and the option will be linked to each individual’s ID (CPR) card.
In the same token many say Bahrain is taking steps to address the legal restrictions, which currently do not support harvesting of organs from a brain-dead person.
In the country there is a problem regarding reluctance to donate organs and recognising brain death. Bahrain laws do not allow the harvesting of organs from a brain-dead person.
Now Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) is tying up with the King Fahad Hospital in Saudi Arabia to create a cross-border transplant programme for patients needing a new kidney, liver or pancreas, as part of a new drive to revive
Bahrain’s transplant programme, which has stalled for the past two years.
This subject is quite difficult for many.
On the one hand some may feel they are not able to make a decision on behalf of a loved one and others want to protect the body of the deceased.
Perhaps donor registration will prevent dilemmas in decision-making, at least for donor families.
Reem Antoon is a former GDN news editor. She can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org