Chief Rabbi cautiously welcomes new organ donation system

Chief Rabbi cautiously welcomes new organ donation system

New plan backed as being "flexible" and allowing families to donate "in accordance with halachic advice"

Organ donor card
Organ donor card

The Chief Rabbi has cautiously welcomed a new organ donation system for England, as long as consent is in line with halachic advice.

The new plan, which aims to tackle donor shortages, shifts the balance of presumption in favour of donation, with an opt out for those who do not wish to take part.

The changes will be known as Max’s Law after Max Johnson, a 10-year-old boy who was saved by a heart transplant.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “We have long been of the view that there is a need for a system of organ and tissue donation which is flexible enough to allow individuals and families to give their consent in accordance with halachic advice. This announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care, appears to provide for us to do exactly that and, is therefore extremely welcome.”

He added: “We will continue to work with the department to ensure that the detailed proposals, once produced, will take full account of our concerns. We would then hope to be in a position to endorse the proposals in full and to provide appropriate guidance.”

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Currently, would-be donors must indicate their intentions on the NHS Organ Donor Register, or grieving families must make the decision if a patient’s wish to donate is unknown.

While research shows that 82 percent of people in England support organ donation, only 37 percent have indicated so on the register.

And less than half of families give consent for their loved one’s organs to be donated.

The proposed law will aim to close this gap, and is expected to be rolled out by the Government in Spring 2020. It is expected to save up to 700 lives a year.

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