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Jewish Doctors call for urgent conversation around organ donation: News


Organ Donation Law Change In England – One year anniversary

20 May 2021 – A year on from the law around organ donation changing in England, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the Jewish Organ Donor Association (JODA UK) are urging people to talk to their families about organ donation to increase the number of people whose lives can be saved or transformed by an organ transplant.

Since the law came into effect on 20 May 2020, people in England are considered as willing to donate, unless they have opted out, are in one of the excluded groups [1], or have told their family they don’t want to donate. Similar legislation was introduced in Wales in 2015 and Scotland also switched to an opt out system in March this year.

Prior to the law change, around 80% of people in England said that they supported organ donation in principle, but only 38% had actually recorded their decision to donate. This compares to 45% of Jews who are registered as an organ donor.

According to a new JODA UK survey of over 1,500 Jews, just over half (51%) of respondents have had a discussion with their next of kin about their wishes regarding organ donation. When asked, one in five (21%) said they just hadn’t got around to it.

Even though the law around organ donation has changed, it is important to know that people still have a choice and families will still be consulted if organ donation becomes a possibility. If people decide to sign up, there is also the option of completing a personal statement which takes a person's Jewish beliefs into account. Unfortunately, 86% of Jews surveyed were unaware of this opportunity.

The statement has been agreed between the Office of the Chief Rabbi, Board of Deputies and NHSBT, to provide reassurance to Jewish people who want to be organ or tissue donors around the processes that can be put in place to ensure that donation proceeds in line with their faith.

Dr Richard Schoub is consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and anaesthesia at Barnet Hospital, Royal Free London and is clinical Lead for Organ Donation at the Trust. He also chairs the JODA Medical Advisory Board. Richard says: “While most people agree that it is important to talk to their family about organ donation, our research shows it is less likely that they will have actually had this important conversation.

“Even though the law around organ donation has changed, families will still be approached before organ donation goes ahead.

“Sadly, opportunities are lost each year because families don’t know if their loved one wanted to be a donor or not.

“Please don’t wait. Speak to your family about organ donation today.”

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation for NHSBT adds: “We are very grateful to JODA UK for its support of organ donation. With organ donation and transplantation both heavily impacted by the pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to have the conversation and let their families know what they want to happen in the event of their death.

“Register your organ donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family the choice you have made. If the time comes, we know families find the organ donation conversation much easier if they already know what their relative wanted.”

Find out more and register your decision by visiting the NHS Organ Donor Register. Users of the NHS app can also use the service to register, check or update their preferences.

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