The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019 heralds a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England, known as ‘opt-out' or ‘deemed consent’. The new consent arrangements mean that all adults over 18 will be considered potential organ and tissue donors after death, unless they make a decision that they do not want to be a donor, they have nominated a representative to make a decision on their behalf after death, or are in an excluded group.
As announced by the Government on 25 February, subject to approval of affirmative regulations and a draft Code of Practice by Parliament, the intention is that deemed consent becomes legal in England on 20 May. The Government appreciates that transplants can only proceed where the relevant consent requirements have been met, including the deemed consent requirements where they apply, and it is safe for patients to have a transplant. In reality, this means that this is unlikely that transplants will proceed under deemed consent during the current COVID-19 pandemic because people are distanced and communication between relevant parties is more challenging.