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Organ donation update: Every adult now an organ donor unless they opt out

The opt out organ donation law takes effect today with the prospect of 700 additional transplants being made each year by 2023.

The new law, which has been named Max and Keira’s Law, was inspired by two children – Max Johnson and Keira Ball.

Keira, aged nine, passed away three days after being in a car accident near her home in Devon in July 2017 which left her with serious head injuries.

Motivated by her desire to help others, her family took the decision to allow her to become an organ donor.

Around the same time, Max Johnson, 10, was fighting for his life at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and was in desperate need of a heart transplant. 

Luckily for Max, his parents received a phone call to say an organ had been found that was a match. 

Max received Keria’s heart in a life-saving operation. 

The primary school pupil went on to campaign for the new law after Keria’s organs saved a total of four lives 

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Organ donation update: Every adult is now an organ donor unless they opt out thanks to Max Johnson (Image: GETTY)

The new law sees a shift to an opt-out system, whereby those aged 18 or over are deemed to have given their consent to have their organs donated, unless they explicitly state otherwise. 

Keria’s mum Loanna Ball, has said the new law will mean her daughter will outlive her. 

She told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett: “Kiera was just such a special child and what she’s done is just incredible. 

“We’re blown away and she inspires me every single day. 


“Now with Max and Kiera’s law coming into place, she’s going to oulive us.” 

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Mrs Ball added it was inspirational to think about what Kiera did “in her little nine years that she was here” and what a difference the new law will now make to others. 

Max’s mother told the BBC she felt a “huge wave of gratitude” towards the Ball family “who under the most extraordinarily traumatic circumstances had the compassion and generosity to say ‘yes’.”

While everyone will be consaidered a presumed organ donor, it’s not mandatory.

Organ donation update: The new law was inspired by Max Johnson and Keira Bell (Image: GETTY)

Those who don’t wish to donate their organs will be able to opt out by registering on the Organ Donation Register. 

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) states: “Nine of the ten countries that have the highest organ donation rates follow an opt-out system, with Spain leading the way.

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“The country has the highest rates of organ donation and the shortest waiting list for transplantation.

“The only country that does not follow an opt-out system in the top ten is the United States.”

The organs you can donate are the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and small bowel. 

It’s also possible to donate your tissues, including the cornea and bone. 

The BHF adds: “Just because you have had an underlying health condition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot donate your organs, although it may limit what you can donate.” 

But, if you currently have, or are suspected of having, one of the following conditions, then you are unable to donate your organs:

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Ebola virus disease
  • Active cancer
  • Active COVID-19
  • HIV
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