In England, You May Have To Opt-Out Of Organ Donation By 2020

A new law could save hundreds of lives a year.

If parliament approves "Max's law," adults in England will have to opt-out of organ donation instead of opting in. 

The UK government says the new legislation will save up to 700 lives a year. In 2017 alone, 411 people died before a proper organ donor could be found. The BBC reports that 5,000 people are currently on organ donation waiting lists in England.

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Max's law is named after Max Johnson, whose search for a heart donor was covered widely across English newspapers. The 10-year-old boy survived after receiving a transplant, and former Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to him to say she was naming the bill after him to honor his story. 

Shutterstock / Dmitry Kalinovsky

The new bill will be voted on this fall, and if it's passed it will go into effect in the spring of 2020. England is not alone, either. Wales instituted an opt-out system in 2015 and Scotland has plans to start one as well. Jackie Doyle-Price, England's Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, told BBC that she wanted organ donation to remain 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," Doyle-Price told the BBC. "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."

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