Research shows more than eight in 10 support organ donation, however less than four in 10 have opted in
On Wednesday 20 May, English law changed so that there will be presumed consent to organ donations for all unless they opt-out on the NHS organ donation register.
Charities such as the British Heart Foundation and industry members such as Scottish Widows' Johnny Timpson, who campaigned for the change, welcomed the decision as a route towards better reflecting the public desire for donation. According to research, more than eight out of 10 of people support organ donation, although less than four out of 10 have recorded their wishes to be donors.
NHS records show that in 2019 there were more than 6,000 people on the waiting list in need of a transplant, including more than 300 people waiting for a new heart, or heart and lung.
Statistics indicate that, each day in the UK, three people die in need of an organ, and over 100 people die each year in need of a new heart. A heart transplant is the only effective treatment available for people with severe heart failure, when the condition cannot be treated effectively with medication.
Dr Marius Barnard
Timpson said he was "proud to personally campaign" for the ‘opt out' approach advocated by his mentor, Dr Marius Barnard, who was a transplant surgeon himself and the inventor of critical illness insurance.
"I'm equally proud that he worked with Scottish Widows and was instrumental in helping us develop our critical illness cover philosophy, culture and products," said Timpson. "Marius always challenged the doctors and financial advisers that he worked with to ‘make a difference' with their knowledge and skill. He may no longer be with us but his challenge remains.
Timpson added that, while the ‘opt out' system has been in place since 2015, the campaign must continue in order to introduce the change to Scotland and Northern Ireland. "Organ failure does not recognise borders," he said.
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