Attendees at the Royal Free Organ Donation Committee meeting. From left to right: Bimbi Fernando (Consultant Kidney & Liver Transplant Surgeon, Royal Free London NHS Trust), Claire Carson (Lead Chaplain. Royal Free London Hospital), Andrew Burlinson-Ely (organ transplant recipient), Alice Workman (Specialist Nurse Organ Donation), David Myers (Patient Governor and Chair, Royal Free Organ Donation Committee), Kirit Modi (Hon President of NBTA (The National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Transplant Alliance and Life Vice-President of the National Kidney Federation), Sina Patel (family donor), Sarah Afuwape (Clinical Renal & Liver Psychologist, Royal Free London NHS Trust).
An informative event on Max and Keira’s Law – The Organ Donation Deemed Consent ‘Organ donation Opt-out’ Bill – and what it means for faith groups as well as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicities (BAME) communities was held at the Royal Free Hospital on 27 March. The event was organised by the Royal Free Organ Donation Committee, in association with the Royal Free Chaplaincy department.
The Bill has now – as of the 15th March – been granted Royal Assent, giving formal confirmation that the Bill will now become law.
From Spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.
The event explored the deemed consent law and the views from the perspective of different faith and belief groups including those from a BAME background. This allowed open and honest conversations about all views to help provide correct and accurate information about organ donation, one of the key messages was the importance to talk to your family and friends so they know your decision about organ donation.
Alice Workman one of the London Specialist Nurses Organ Donation states ‘Although deemed consent will see a change in law, the specialist nurse for organ donation will continue to have these conversations with families and next of kin, who will continue to be central in the decision-making process of their loved ones when we discuss organ donation.’ A transplant surgeon, a Specialist Nurse Organ Donation, a clinical psychologist and an expert patient, alongside multi-faith and belief leaders gave talks. There was also an opportunity to hear patient stories from a donor family and an organ transplant recipient, as well as an enthusiastic questions and answers segment.
David Myers, patient governor and chair of the Royal Free London Organ Donation committee, and host for the event said: “We want to encourage discussions with faith leaders about deemed consent which they can use when they are having discussions with their members and community groups to help inform their decisions on organ donation.” He added: “There is an urgent need for more people to agree to donate. There are more than 6000 patients awaiting an organ with 5000 of them waiting for a kidney. Sadly, 427 people died last year in the UK in need of an organ, while more than 1,000 families say no to organ donation every year.”
Alongside this Kirit Modi, Chair of the Jain and Hindu organ donation steering group (JHOD) said: “It is very important that faith groups now engage in discussions within their communities about deemed consent in England. The event at the Royal Free was an excellent start and I am very happy to support faith groups in organising local events. We need to ensure that accurate information about deemed consent is readily available to all faith groups”.