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Organ Donation Week - Do your family know your wishes?
- AuthorNathan Hidson
This year, Organ Donation Week runs between the 18th - 24th of September. The campaign is designed to raise awareness about organ donation and transplantation. While most of the UK now runs on a system of opting out, it is still something you should discuss with your family regarding your wishes. Here, we look at the law on organ donation in the UK and why you should make your wishes known.
What is the law on organ donation in the UK?
In England and Wales, you are automatically considered to have agreed to be an organ donor unless you have specifically opted out or you are part of an excluded group.
The law is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and you must register to become an organ donor. However, registration is quick and easy, and it can be done online. You can also choose which organs you wish to donate; you may be comfortable with some but not others.
Talking to family about your wishes
If you pass away and you are eligible for organ donation, your family will always be consulted, even if you have not opted out in England and Wales or you have opted in in Scotland. This is why it is so important to talk to your family about your wishes.
If you would like to donate
An NHS campaign called ‘Leave Them Certain’ found that while 80% of people are willing to donate their organs, only 39% say they have shared their decision with their loved ones. It was also found that nine out of ten families support organ donation when they know their loved one's wishes, but this falls to only five out of ten when they do not [https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/get-involved/news/new-nhs-campaign-urges-people-to-talk-to-family-and-leave-them-certain-about-organ-donation/]. This is why it is so crucial you have these conversations now so that your family can be sure they are making the right decision if the time were ever to come and not under additional pressure at what will already be a devastating and stressful time.
If you would not like to donate
If you would rather not be an organ donor, you should communicate with your loved ones too. You can also register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Can your family overturn your decision?
Yes, your family will always be consulted in circumstances where donation is possible, and organ donation will never go ahead if your family object. This is why it is crucial to let your family know if you are a registered donor or are happy for your organs to be donated. This increases the chances of them consenting to organ donation and following your wishes.