Organ Donation Week – Do Your Family Know Your Wishes?

This year, Organ Donation Week runs between the 19th – 25th 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, where 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. This is why it is so crucial that you have these conversations now so that your family can be sure that they are making the right decision if the time were ever to come and not placed 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 proceed if your family objects to it. 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 will enable them to consent, if the question arises, to organ donation and act in accordance with your wishes.

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further, please contact our Wills, Tax & Probate team at Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077.