This year I had the great pleasure of listening to a talk from a young boy called Max who received a lifesaving heart transplant in August 2017 aged nine, having been on the waiting list for 8 months. He spoke about the agonising wait for a new heart and shared his heart-warming story and his campaign for an opt-out system for organ donation. Max’s life-saving gift came from a young girl, Keira Ball, who passed away aged 9 years old. Her parents, Joe and Loanna, also shared their story about why they made the selfless decision to agree to donate Keira’s organs after a tragic accident. Keira’s organs helped many people, including Max, and they spoke about the comfort they took from making their decision.
She had the kindest heart and was the most thoughtful person. I knew she would have wanted to help make other people better. Keira lives on in Max and the other people she helped and we are super proud of her.”
In 2018 the government announced the law change around organ donation which would be commonly referred to as Max’s Law, to recognise the campaigning Max and his family had done during his wait and recovery. Max announced he wanted Keira’s name to be added and the Bill received Royal Assent in March 2019. “Max and Keira’s Law” will be enacted in England in Spring 2020.
From Spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded their decision not to donate or belong to an exclusion group. This “opt out” system means that adults covered by the change in law have an active choice to register their decision on the national organ donation register as “YES” or “NO”. If there is no recorded decision, it will be considered that you agree to be an organ donor when you die.
Organ donation is an act of great generosity and despite the change to the law a person’s family will still be consulted about donating their organs when they die. It is therefore our duty as a Trust to help inform the community we serve about the changes to the law and the fact that we all need to record our choices and “pass it on” to our family members.
The law is changing in England because there is still a shortage of organs for transplantation. Everyday approximately three people die in need of an organ because there are not enough available for transplantation. However, only 1% of people die in circumstances that would allow them to donate. As a Trust we strive to offer the opportunity to donate to ALL those who may be able to. We aim to create an efficient and supportive process for the patient and their family when donation is part of their end-of-life wishes and have had feedback from teams involved and patient’s families to support this.
The “Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020” strategy is reaching the final stages and the sustained collaborative effort from individuals and the Trust’s involvement in organ donation ensures that we help deliver best practice to our patients. In the last year, when compared with national data, during the time period our Trust was commended by NHS Blood and Transplant for being “exceptional” for many aspects of our donation services.
The logistical process of Organ Donation is often challenging but the outcome is truly amazing and this, for all involved, can often provide a glimmer of positivity during a desolate time.
For more information, or to register your choice about organ donation please visit: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/