New law on organ donation comes into force thanks to campaigning by young boy from Cheshire

A new organ donation law aimed at boosting the number of transplants has been praised for giving hope to people waiting on life-saving operations.

Most adults in England are now automatically considered organ donors, after a change in legislation which was brought about thanks to campaigning by a young boy from Cheshire who got a new heart from a nine-year-old girl who died after a car crash.

Max and Keira's law sees a shift to an opt-out system, whereby those aged 18 and over are deemed to have given consent to donate their own organs when they die, unless they explicitly state otherwise or are in an excluded group.

Keira Ball saved four lives, including that of Max Johnson, from Winsford and also aged nine at the time, after her father allowed doctors to use her organs for transplants following a crash in 2017.

Max Johnson Credit: ITV News

It is hoped the law, which takes effect from Wednesday, will lead to an additional 700 transplants each year by 2023, and spark conversations around organ donation.

Faizan Awan, from Blackburn, one of thousands of people across the UK awaiting a transplant, said: "For many people like me, who are waiting for an organ, the law change is a sign of hope and a transplant would dramatically change my life in a number of ways.

Mr Awan, 33, is waiting on his third kidney transplant, having received one as a child and, after that failed, another when he was a teenager.

He has been on the waiting list for the past two and a half years.

Credit: Faizan Awan/NHSBT/PA Wire

Anthony Clarkson, director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), said: "We hope this law change will prompt all of us to consider whether or not we would want to donate our organs and encourage us all to register and share our decision with our family and friends."

He added that people should be aware they will still have a choice on whether or not to donate, and reassured the public that families will still be consulted, and faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected

Health minister Lord Bethall said earlier this week that while the law comes into force on Wednesday it may not come into practice straight away "due to the limitations of Covid".

READ MORE: the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on families waiting for an organ transplant

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Today we celebrate a milestone for organ donation as we move to a new system of deemed consent in England which will mean hundreds more lives could be transformed each year.

Keira Ball Credit:

The law change has been widely welcomed by charities including the British Heart Foundation and Kidney Care UK.