Scarborough girl Thalia’s family welcomes new ‘opt-out’ organ donation law which comes into effect today

As of today, May 20, the way organ donation works in England is changing.

By Corinne Macdonald
Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 10:04 am
Thalia-Beau Wright, from Scarborough, who has Restrictive Cardiomyopathy.
Thalia-Beau Wright, from Scarborough, who has Restrictive Cardiomyopathy.

From today the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act comes into effect.

Under the new law, organ donation will be an ‘opt-out’ system rather than the previous ‘opt-in’ system and all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate.

Christine Johnson, grandmother of Thalia-Beau Wright, a little girl from Scarborough who has Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, has welcomed the changes.

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Thalia’s condition affects one in a million people and has no cure so her only hope is a heart transplant.

Though the new law doesn’t affect under 18s, Christine explained that Thalia could receive an adult’s heart.

Her nephew has also received three kidney transplants and needs a fourth.

“For us as a family, we are extremely grateful for organ transplants,” she said.

Christine is active in trying to raise awareness of organ donation, though says it’s something people don’t always like to talk about.

She said: “People don’t really want to speak or think about it but if it was you or someone you loved you would want someone to have donated.

"It’s an absolutely horrendous thing to think about but I want people to know we’re not waiting for someone to lose a loved one, that’s the last thing we’d want someone to go through, but tragedies do happen.

“The new law will help because so many more people will leave their organs.”

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) says organ donation will not go ahead if a potential donor tests positive for Covid-19.

Anthony Clarkson, the NHSBT’s director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, said: “It is important that people know that even after the law changes, they will still have a choice whether or not to donate.

“Families will still be consulted and people’s faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected.

“We hope this law change will prompt all of us to consider whether or not we would want to donate our organs.

“I would encourage everyone to register and share your decision with your family and friends.”

Though the law is set to change this month, the number of organ transplants taking place across the UK has decreased dramatically since the beginning of March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While several transplant centres remain open, many are closed and only the most urgent cases are going ahead.

Pressure on intensive care and the risk of the virus to transplant patients on immunosuppressant drugs are both reasons for the drop in operations.

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