The British government announced Sunday that it has outlined plans to implement a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in 2020 in order to tackle a shortage of donors.
This opt-out system, opposite to the current opt-in system, will mean everyone is considered a willing organ donor unless they have explicitly recorded a wish not to be.
Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement that the proposed new system is expected to come into effect in England in spring 2020, and there will be a 12-month transition period to allow time for discussion with friends and family about organ donation preferences.
People who don not want to donate their organs will be able to register their decision through NHS websites, phone calls, and an app which will launch at the end of this year.
It is believed the new system would save up to 700 lives each year.
Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, said: “We believe that by making these changes, we can save as many as 700 more lives every year. But organ donation remains a gift. I want to encourage people who wish to give life in the event of their death to take the time to record their wishes and discuss it with their family. ”
“However, we know this new system alone is not a magic bullet. We need to address myths and misconceptions around donation, and we will only do this by having informed debate and dialogue, which I hope will be fostered by these proposals,” she added.
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 percent of people in England support organ donation, only 37 percent have indicated so on the register.
In 2017, 411 people died in Britain before the right donor was found, and more than 5,000 people are currently on the waiting list in England.
A similar opt-out system has been in place in Wales since 2015. Scotland plans to introduce a similar scheme and Northern Ireland has also expressed an interest.