NHS Blood and Transplant has launched a year-long national campaign, ‘Pass it on’, to increase awareness and understanding of the organ donation law change, which comes into place next year.
From spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.
Those excluded will be people under 18, people who lack the capacity to understand the change and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months before their death or who are not living here voluntarily.
The campaign, ‘Pass it on’, aims to highlight organ donation and the law change on several different levels:
- Organ donation is a precious gift: you can save and transform up to nine lives by passing on your organs
- Make and share your decision: It’s your choice whether or not you want to donate. Make your decision and pass it on to those closest to you
- Spread the word: Help pass on the message about the change in the law around organ donation in England, and what it means, to others
A survey carried out by NHS Blood and Transplant in January 2019, found only 37% of people over 16 were aware that the law around organ donation was changing.
While this rose to half of over 55s, amongst certain groups awareness is much lower – for example, only 21% of 16 – 20 year olds and 27% of people from BAME backgrounds.
The campaign, developed with input from people from a range of ages and backgrounds and from across the country, aims to clearly communicate that the law is changing and the choices available, as well as encouraging people to make a decision and share this with their family.
The main creative concept aims to portray the gift of organ donation. It features a person holding a digitally created heart (or other organ) shaped balloon. As they release the balloon from their hand, another reaches out to take hold of the string.
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Organ donation is, and always will be, a precious gift. Although the law is changing it will still be the generosity of individual donors and their families who decide at the most difficult time to support organ donation, which will ensure more transplants can happen and more lives can be saved.
“We want everyone to know the law around organ donation is changing, to understand how it is changing and the choices available to them.
“We want them to make their organ donation decision and to share that decision with their family.
“While eight in ten people in England tell us they definitely want to donate or would consider donating, only just over a third of adults have told their partner or family that they want to donate their organs after they die.
“Regardless of the organ donation decision you make, the most important thing is to make sure your family are aware of your decision.
“We hope that by increasing awareness and understanding of organ donation, we can inspire more individuals and families to agree to donation and allow many more lives to be saved.”
Once the new system is introduced across England, families will still be involved before any organ or tissue donation goes ahead and NHS Blood and Transplant Specialist Nurses will continue to speak with families about their loved one’s decision.
Mark Whitehouse, Specialist Requestor and Specialist Nurse In Organ Donation in the South West region, added: “Organ donation is and will always be a precious gift. As nurses we work closely with families who agree to organ donation and for adults covered by the change in law this will remain the same.
“Whatever your decision around organ donation, we ask that you make your choice clear to your family and those closest to you, to ensure your choice is honoured.”
The ‘Pass it on’ campaign is being supported by charities and community groups, including British Heart Foundation, Kidney Care UK, Donor Family Network, Share Your Wishes, ACLT and National BAME Transplant Alliance.
Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister for Inequalities said: “Far too many people in need of an organ transplant are still dying on a waiting list. We hope that Max and Keira’s Law will save hundreds of lives when it comes into effect next year – but until then, it’s vital people understand what the new law means for them.
“I want to reassure everyone that choosing to give the gift of life still is and always will remain a personal decision.
“I strongly urge people to talk to their loved ones about their wishes and make their decision clear on the register.”
Digital adverts will run across social media channels with online resources and a toolkit available for individual supporters, community groups and partner organisations. Videos, animations, factsheets and FAQs plus printed materials will also be available.
For more information about the campaign or to access online resources, visit: https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/pass-it-on/.