Opt-out organ donation: Salisbury transplant patient 'delighted' with law change

Opt-out organ donation: Salisbury transplant patient 'delighted' with law change

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 5:50am 20th May 2020. (Updated at 12:04pm 20th May 2020)

3 minute read

Lucy Ryan has been campaigning for the last five years to see the system changed to an 'assumed consent' one.

From today (Wednesday 20th May), that law comes into effect, and 30 year old Lucy, who grew up in Winterslow, says it's 'brilliant it's finally happening'.

She had a heart transplant herself aged 3 and has been calling for more people to talk more openly about organ donation for many years.

Lucy Ryan Organ Donation campaigner on video call May 2020
Lucy spoke to Spire FM via a video call this week, to explain how pleased she is about the law change

Lucy also set up a petition back in 2015, pushing the Government to alter the system to make it easier for people to donate organs after they've passed away. 

She wanted to see the process changed so that people would have to opt out of organ donation, instead of us having to declare our intentions beforehand.

Lucy says getting people to sign up for the organ donation register has been a bit of a barrier for people over the years: 

"It's on their to-do list, but it never reaches the top, and they've never had that discussion with their families. I think if people are strongly against it, they'll make the effort to opt-out, whereas I think we all think 'that won't happen to me, so I don't need to worry about signing up'."

NHS Blood and Transplant Organ Donation Pass It On
The new opt-out law comes into effect today (Wednesday 20th May)


The new opt-out system for England, which is now in effect, means it will be assumed that we're happy to have our organs donated, unless we state otherwise. 

That process will apply to every adult, unless your decision not to donate has been registered - or you fall into one of these categories: 

  • Those under the age of 18
  • People who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action
  • Visitors to England, and those not living here voluntarily
  • People who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death

Lucy Ryan says talking about organ donation shouldn't be a taboo subject and that we should talk about what we want with our families.

And she thinks the Covid-19 situation may actually help change out attitudes towards the idea: 

"If (organ donation) is the norm, they won't find it such a scary thing and such an alien concept. Hopefully, the fact that their loved one hasn't opted-out will be a clue as to how they felt about it.

"Obviously death is a really morbid subject, but I think we've all had to think about it a lot more over the last couple of months, so hopefully people will feel more comfortable about having those conversations with their families."

Lucy says she's found it a 'relief' to have the law come into effect, but also thinks she might be in need of another project to get her teeth into for the future.

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