MORE THAN 50,000 people in the UK are currently alive due to an organ transplant, according to the NHS.
Around 23.6 million people are registered organ donors, but Theresa May has announced she will change the organ donor system in England.
What is organ donation?
Organ donation is when someone gives an organ to help someone who needs a transplant.
There is no age limit on being a donor, but a few medical conditions can prevent you from donating.
You can donate after death or as a living donation. The latter only applies to donating a kidney, a small part of your liver, bone from a hip or knee replacement or your placenta.
How do you register for a donor card?
Currently, if you wish to donate your organs, you need to join the NHS Organ Donor Register or tell a relative or close friend that you wish to donate.
To register, fill out a quick form on the NHS website, which takes around two minutes to complete.
The form lets you select to donate all of your organs or tissue, or some of them, which you can select from a list.
You will then be sent a donor card and can ring 0300 123 23 23 at any time of the day if your card doesn’t arrive.
Tell your friends or family about your decision, as they will be consulted after you die to make sure you hadn’t changed your mind.
What changes is Theresa May making?
The Prime Minister revealed the move to an Opt Out system during a speech at the Tory party conference in Manchester.
An opt-out system is where a deceased person is presumed to consent to donation unless he or she has specified otherwise. Wales introduced such a system last year and organ donation and transplants have since risen sharply, with just six per cent of the adult population opting out.
She said: “Our ability to help people who need transplants is limited by the number of organ donors that come forward.
“That is why last year 500 people died because a suitable organ was not available. And there are 6,500 on the transplant list today.
“So to address this challenge that affects all communities in our country, we will change that system. Shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation.”
How can you opt out from organ donation?
Organ donation only occurs from a registered donor with their consent, or if the family has given permission after death.
If you have already signed up to be an organ donor, you are able to change your mind.
This can be done by ringing 0300 123 2323 or filling out an NHS Organ Donor Register withdrawal form.
You can also write to FREEPOST RRZKSHUX- SBCK, NHSBT, Fox Den Road, Stoke Gifford, Bristol, BS34 8RR, to invalidate your organ donor card.
And you are advised to inform friends and family of your new decision.
What organs can be donated?
There are a number or organs that you can select to be donated.
- Small intestine
- Tissue (from heart valves, skin, bone, tendons, eyes etc)
- Corneas (tissue at the front of your eye)
We recently reported celebrity Katie Price is considering generously donating a lung to her terminally ill mum – who has three to five years left to live – after being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Are there any restrictions for organ donation?
You can only donate if you have a donor card and your friends and if family confirm this is what you wanted.
There are a number of other restrictions that can affect you donating.
These include organs from individuals who may carry a risk of transmitting cancer or an infection.
You are also exempt if you have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
Some organs from people who have had current and past cancers can be used, if the surgeon weighs up the risk of the organ with the risk of a patient who needs a transplant dying.
If these restrictions don’t apply, anyone who lives in the UK, regardless of their age, can donate, as long as they are legally capable of making the decision.
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