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Organ Donation In The UK

Organ donation laws vary across different countries in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).


In England in May 2020, the law around organ donation was changed to allow more people to save more lives, it is now an opt-out system where it will be considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die, if:

  • you are over 18

  • you have not opted out

  • you are not in an excluded group*


In Wales in December 2015 the legislation was introduced and is deemed consent. This means that if you haven’t registered an organ donation decision (opt in or opt out), you will be considered to have no objection to becoming a donor. It will be considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die, if:

  • you are over 18

  • you have not opted out

  • you are not in an excluded group*


In Scotland the legislation passed in July 2019 for the opt out system which applies to most adults aged 16 and over who are resident in Scotland, but it doesn't apply to everyone. Under the opt out system, if you die in circumstances where you could become a donor and have not recorded a donation decision, it may be assumed you are willing to donate your organs, however your family will be consulted. Under this system, excluded groups are:

  • adults without capacity to understand the deemed authorisation law

  • adults who have lived in Scotland for less than 12 months before their death

  • children under the age of 16


In Northern Ireland, the law around organ donation was changed in June 2023 where it will be considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die, if:

  • you are over 18

  • you have not opted out

  • you are not in an excluded group*


You can register your decision at any time if you do not want to become an organ donor.


*Those under the age of 18, people who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action, visitors to the country, and those not living there voluntarily and people who have lived in the country for less than 12 months before their death)

It is hoped that these law changes and legislations will help to increase donation rates across the UK. For more information about organ donation visit Home - NHS Organ Donation.

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