When polled, roughly 80% of adults said that they would at least consider donating their organs, but as of now only around 40% are active on the register. Of course this may be due to people that pass on unexpectedly, or have put off registering for some reason, but the result is a lack of a much needed resource for people in terrible situations.
Currently England operates an Opt In policy for Organ Donation. You call up, or fill out the form, and they send you the little blue card. The card gets placed into your wallet, or filed away, or lost. But now they have you on the register, if the worst happens and you do pass away, then the NHS are aware of your wishes.
With this upcoming change your consent would be assumed, raising the number of possible donators considerably. In Wales (where they adopted this practise back in 2015) the donation rate is a staggering 80%, as compared to England’s 66.2%
The hope is that this change will also help balance the lack of donors of various ethnicities that is affecting the register at the moment.
In a study of people on the register that passed away between April 2016 & 2017, the statistics show that 94% of them were identified as white. The remaining 6% were 2% Asian, 2% black, 3% as other, and the remainder as Unknown.
The register has seen an influx of different ethnicities joining in the last few years, but the above date goes to show that it is still a long way off, and many people in specific ethnic groupings are left waiting a long time for any hope of a transplant.
It should also be said that when the changes to donation do go ahead, it is by no means mandatory. If you wish to Opt out for any reason, then you shall easily be able to do this (presumably in the same way that you can Opt in at the moment).
Of course you could also put your wishes down in your will, alongside your funeral wishes, but by the time that a will is able to be procured, odds are that the viable donation period will have passed.
This is why it is so important to talk about organ donation with your family. Whether you signed up under the old system, or it will be presumed under the new, your family would still have the choice whether or not any parts of you could be used at all. While in the majority of cases the family will abide with the wishes of the person in question, it is always worth making sure they know your thoughts well ahead of time in case something should suddenly happen.