Strengthening health systems

Three people die every day in the UK in need of an organ. A heart transplant is the only effective treatment available for people with severe heart failure, when the condition cannot be treated effectively with medication. Around 200 heart or heart-lung transplants are carried out in the UK every year. But more people could benefit if more donations were available.

Opt-out for Organ Donation

In early 2019 there were more than 6,000 people on the NHS waiting list in need of a transplant, including more than 300 people waiting for a new heart, or heart and lung. Every day in the UK, three people die in need of an organ, and over 100 people die each year in need of a new heart. A heart transplant is the only effective treatment available for people with severe heart failure, when the condition cannot be treated effectively with medication.

 

BHF’s influencing success

A new opt-out organ donation system will be introduced in England from 2020, following campaigning by the British Heart Foundation and others. Under the new system, everyone in England will be presumed to consent to donating their organs unless they register their decision to opt-out on the NHS organ donation register. We believe this will better reflect the public desire for donation, which shows that more than 8 out of 10 of people support organ donation, although less than 4 out of 10 have recorded their wishes to be donors.
 
An opt-out organ donation bill is currently going through the Scottish Parliament, whilst Wales has had an opt-out system since 2015.

More to be done

While this will offer a lifeline to the hundreds of people, and their families, waiting for a heart transplant, the work is not yet over. The change in law needs to be supported by an investment in an on-going communications campaign to raise awareness of the new system as well further investment in training, education, and resources to be truly successful.

Our Director of Healthcare Innovation, Jacob West, said: 

“This change in the law is a historic moment that will provide a lifeline for the hundreds of patients waiting for a heart transplant across the UK. Tragically there is a drastic shortage of organ donors, meaning thousands of people are living with life-limiting illnesses and an uncertain future. This new law now offers them much needed hope that a donor will be found before it is too late. The law change will be a vital first step, but what really matters now is for it to be given the right resources and infrastructure to work effectively, and save thousands of lives in the process. We look forward to the Government making this vital commitment.” 

Sign up to become an organ donor

For further information email us at [email protected].