From 1st July 2019, the way people in Jersey choose to donate their organs is changing. The intention is to make it easier for deceased Islanders to donate their organs and potentially save more lives. However, there is also a recognition that not everyone wants to donate their organs and they must have the opportunity to opt out if they wish.
A key aspect of the new approach is to raise awareness of organ donation and encourage people to have the conversation with their families about donating while still fit and well, rather than leave the question of donation to be determined during the emotive aftermath of a serious accident or illness. A few words now can make the difference later on.
Under the new arrangements:
- You can expressly consent to organ donation via the organ donation register
- You can do nothing and it will be assumed that you have no objection to donating
- You can expressly ‘opt out’ of donation via the organ donation register
What’s the change?
There will be an assumption (in law) that adults will consent to donating their organs after death (‘deemed consent’) unless they expressly say otherwise before their death (‘opting out’).
Adults can continue to expressly consent to be an organ donor, as is the case currently. So, in effect, those who neither expressly consent to organ donation nor opt out of the deemed consent system will be taken to have consented to organ donation. As with express consent, the views of family and close friends will play a role in any deemed consent decision around organ donation.
How will deemed consent work in practice?
As a first step, formal checks will be undertaken to see whether you have opted out from the deemed consent arrangements. If you have expressly opted out, (by registering your decision on the Organ Donation Register), no organ donation will take place.
If you have expressly consented to be an organ donor, (by registering that decision on the Organ Donation Register), the deemed consent arrangements do not apply to you and your express consent as to donation will be taken into account on your death. Current registrations on the Organ Donation Register will remain valid when the law is changed. On your death, your family will be informed and with their co-operation the process of examining the feasibility of donation would begin.
If you have not expressly consented to be an organ donor or if you have not registered a decision to opt-out from the deemed consent arrangements you will be deemed to have consented to donation on your death. At that point, if you are considered to be a candidate for donation, your family or friends would be approached and asked if you had expressed any objections to organ donation.
Where no family or close friend was contactable during the required timeframe then donation is unlikely to proceed as important information about your lifestyle and medical history could not be obtained.
Which organs does it apply to?
Deemed consent only applies to a specified range of organs, such as kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, small bowel, corneas.
How do I opt out?
If you wish to opt out of the deemed consent arrangements you need to contact NHS Blood and Transplant which maintains the organ donation register for Jersey. It is the database that medical staff consult in the first instance to see if someone has registered their decision to be, or not to be, a donor during their lifetime.
You can register as an organ donor online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk or opt out in the same place – by calling 0300 123 2323. You can specify which organs you do or do not want to donate. You can change your mind on all these matters at any time. You can find out more detailed information by searching “organ donation” on gov.je. You don’t have to wait until I July if you want to opt out, you can do this now.
Who cannot give deemed consent?
- People under 18 years of age.
- People who lacked capacity to understand the notion of deemed consent before their death.
- Adults who have not been ordinarily resident in Jersey for 12 months immediately before their death.