Organ donors will
in future be allowed to donate their organs to a family member or
close friend in need of a transplant under new rules, Health
Minister Ann Keen announced today.
New guidance for transplant teams published today sets out that
in some exceptional cases people will be able to request that
their, or a family members, organs are given to a family member or
close friend after they die in cases where there is someone in
need of a new organ.
This will give transplant teams greater flexibility in the
allocation of organ donations, particularly where a family member
intended to donate an organ, such as a kidney, to a person but
sadly died before they could.
Health Minister Ann Keen said:
“This change is greatly welcomed, as it will bring much needed
clarity to what is a sad and difficult time for the family of a
deceased donor and a family member or close friend who could
benefit from donation.
“Although requests to allocate an organ donated after death are
likely to be rare, we want to ensure that the system is as fair as
it can be and the wishes of organ donors and their families are
taken into account. We hope these latest changes encourage more
families and close friends to talk about their wishes before it is
Chris Rudge National Clinical Director for
“With this change in policy, a significant balance has been
struck between the wishes of those who agree to donate their
organs unconditionally and the need to allocate organs on the
basis of clinical need.
“This guidance, will bring clarity to what is a complex situation
and give frontline staff the necessary support in working with the
families of deceased donors and organ recipients, at a time that
is stressful for both parties.”
Organ allocation is subject to clinical priority and this will
not change under these new measures. People on the Super Urgent
Heart or Liver lists or those who will not live beyond 72 hours
without a transplant will still have priority over any request to
donate an organ to family or close friends. But where there are no
appropriate candidates on heart or liver urgent lists, then it
will be possible for the organ to be given to a family member or
close friend, as long as it is clinical match.
Frontline staff will if they need additional advice be able to
refer cases to the Requested Allocation Oversight Group, who will
provide expert guidance where needed.
Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and
Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, the special health
authority responsible for the allocation of organs across the
“This guidance supports the well-established donation process in
which respecting the wishes of donors, in consultation with their
relatives, is an important part.
“This guidance will enable us to consider, as we always do, what
the donor wanted but also to take into account the health and
wellbeing of a sick patient who is known to them.
"With around 10,000 people in need of an organ
transplant and an average of three people dying every day because
of the shortage, there remains an urgent need for people to
consider donation in general, join the NHS Organ Donor Register
and to discuss their donation wishes with their relatives so that
these can be confirmed when the time comes."
We have also today published guidance for Coroners and transplant
teams aimed at promoting better understanding at all levels of the
processes involved in organ retrieval and the necessary legal
requirements for coroner intervention after some deaths. This will
provide practical guidance to coroners and donor coordinators when
agreeing whether or not a donation can proceed. It is hoped that
this guidance will prevent organ wastage and lead to a greater
availability of viable organs.
Notes to Editors
1) This change to the organ donation guidance will affect the UK.
More information on the guidance can be found at the following link
2) This new policy will come into effect immediately.
3) The Requested Allocation Oversight Group will consist of 15
people, drawn from a number of organisation such as NHS Blood and
Transplant, the Human Tissue Authority, the transplant community
and patient groups and will be chaired by the Associate Medical
Director for Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant.
4) For more Info on how to become a donor - http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/how_to_become_a_donor/how_to_become_a_donor.jsp.
Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221