Government announces new system of consent for organ and tissue donation
The Government plans to implement a new system of consent for organ donation to tackle a shortage of donors. Under the planned new system, everybody would be considered as a potential organ donor unless they have added their details to the NHS Organ Donor Register to opt out of donation (with some exceptions). The donor register will include an option for individuals to state important religious and cultural beliefs, to ensure they are respected.
The plans have been published in the Government’s response to the Organ Donation Consultation which took place in England between December 2017 and March 2018. The document notes that some Jewish and Muslim respondents expressed concerns with the new arrangements, but that overall, most respondents said that they did not think the change would have a negative impact.
In response to feedback during the consultation process, the Government has announced that it will introduce the option for someone to state that faith is important to them when registering a decision to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register. This information would be available to NHS Blood and Transplant staff when they check if someone had recorded a decision to donate or not to donate their organs. This will help ensure that appropriate discussions take place with family, and anybody else appropriate, such as with a faith leader, so that donation proceeds in line with the person’s religious beliefs.
The Government has also announced that NHS Blood and Transplant will work with faith leaders to develop the content for digital faith-specific donor cards, which can be downloaded and shared on social media and with friends and family, to make sure that their decision on organ donation is understood. This will mean that the family will be better able to advise the Specialist Nurses for Organ Donation about their loved one’s decision.
A donor card is not needed for organ donation to go ahead, as the NHS Organ Donor Register is the official source of registered information about someone’s decision to donate or not to donate and, under the new system, if someone has not registered a decision either way, their consent will be ‘deemed’. However, NHS Blood and Transplant believes that the cards will play a useful role in raising awareness among friends and family and help to demonstrate that a potential donor wants to donate their organs in line with their faith beliefs.
An example of how the card could look for one faith can be seen: Sikhism
Similar designs have been prepared for the other major faiths. Please contact [email protected] with any thoughts on the proposed design and content of the card and the wording for the faith declaration.
Find out more – read the Government’s response to the consultation.