You now have to opt out of becoming an organ donor as new law comes into effect

Date published: 21 May 2020

Adults in England now have to opt out of becoming an organ donor, under the new Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act, which came into effect on Wednesday (20 May 2020).

The act is also known as Max and Keira’s law, in honour of a boy who received a heart transplant and the girl who donated it.

Under the new law, all adults in England are considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate (known as ‘opting out’) or are in one of the excluded groups.

Those excluded will be people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; people who have lived in England for less than 12 months; those who are not living here voluntarily and those who have nominated someone else to make the decision on their behalf.

In cases where an individual hasn’t expressed a decision, specialist nurses will support families to make a decision, based on what their loved ones would have wanted. If the decision is not to donate, this will be honoured and upheld.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, said “We are very pleased that Max and Keira’s Law has passed its final round of parliamentary approval and we welcome the new legislation.

“It is important that people know they will still have a choice whether or not to donate. Families will still be consulted, and people’s faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected.

“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.

“We want people to know that there is no deadline to making your donation decision, you can register your choice at any time.

“We will continue to provide the very best care and support to organ donors and their families, in order to help save more lives through the gift of organ donation.”

Very few people die in circumstances which makes organ donation is possible and currently, even fewer donations and transplants are taking place. While transplants continue to happen, organ donation will not go ahead, if a potential donor in known to have, or suspected of having, Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “Organ transplants are one of the modern miracles of science – helping offer hope in the midst of tragic loss.

“We celebrate a milestone for organ donation as we move to a new system of deemed consent in England which will mean hundreds more lives could be transformed each year.

“I want to pay tribute to Max, Keira and everyone else who campaigned for this change.”

If you do not wish to donate your organs, you can record this decision on the NHS Organ Donation Register. You can do this through NHS Blood and Transplant’s website:

For more information on the 'opt out' system in England please visit:

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online