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Improving and protecting public health

Become an organ donor

Statistics show that 82 per cent of the population definitely want to donate or would consider donating their organs. But only 50 per cent have talked about it with their family, and it is family members who will ultimately need to agree to organ donation going ahead.

Right now more than 10,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant that could save or dramatically improve their lives, but each year around 1,000 people die while waiting for a transplant.

Help give these people the chance at a new life.

Join the NHS Organ Donor Register online and give the gift of life

Changing UK policy

We discuss options for increasing the number of donors and reaffirm our policy that a opt-out system with safeguards is the best option for the UK.

Download Building on progress: where next for organ donation policy in the UK?

Soft opt-out organ donation

organ donationThe BMA is calling for:

Bullet pointIncreased public campaigning to promote organ donation

Bullet pointA ‘soft’ opt-out system for organ donation

BMA has long advocated a ‘soft’ opt-out system with safeguards for organ donation and continues to believe this is the best option for the UK to reduce the shortage of organs.

Currently the UK has an opt-in organ donation system where a person has to register their consent to donate their organs in the event of their death. This is set to change in Wales from December 2015.

Under an opt-out system there would be a presumption in favour of consent for organ donation unless a person had registered an objection in advance.

If an objection had not been registered, family members would still be given the opportunity to confirm whether the individual had any unregistered objection, as an extra safeguard, before any procedures went ahead.


How would the system proposed by the BMA work?

Before changing to a new system there would be an extensive, high profile awareness campaign to inform the public about the changes and to encourage them to consider their own wishes about donation after their death.

A database would be established with a mechanism for people to easily and quickly opt-out if that is their wish.

Once implemented, when someone over the age of 16 dies and donation is a possibility, the opt-out register must, by law, be checked and if the individual has opted out donation could not proceed.

As an extra safeguard, if the individual had not opted out, family members would be asked if they were aware of any unregistered objection.

If the relatives were not aware of any objection, they would be informed that donation would proceed.

There would be scope not to proceed if it was evident that to do so would cause severe distress to those close to the patient.

Northern Ireland

The BMA hosted a round table discussion on organ donation at Stormont. Following the discussion, an All Party Group on Organ Donation was established.

Find out more about organ donation in Northern Ireland


The BMA is currently running its Opt For Change campaign in Scotland. It aims to raise support for a change in legislation to a soft opt-out organ donation system.

Read more about the BMA's work in Scotland


The Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill was passed by the National Assembly for Wales in July 2013 and received royal assent in September 2013.

Under the new system there will be two forms of consent in law - deemed consent by those who have not registered to opt-out of donating an organ, and express consent, by those who have registered.

See how the BMA helped change the law in Wales