Published on 24 May 2021

Government confirms organ donation system change in England on 20 May

  • Organ donation and transplantation

Today, the government has announced that the new law to implement a system of deemed consent for organ and tissue donation (also known as an ‘opt out’ system) will be introduced in England on 20 May 2020. 

Under the new system, all adults will be considered as a possible organ and tissue donor when they die, unless they have made a decision that they do not want to be a donor or are in an excluded group.

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has consulted on practical guidance about how the new system should be operated by healthcare professionals working in organ and tissue donation and transplantation. 

The guidance will come in the form of a revised Code of Practice that will be published when the new system comes into force.

We will also publish a Public Guide on the revised Code of Practice on organ and tissue donation that will explain how our regulation will work under the new deemed consent system.


"Once the new law is introduced in May, our revised Code of Practice will help to guide organ and tissue donation and transplantation professionals working in England on the day-to day application of the new deemed consent system.

It is crucial that those working in this area understand the rules and regulations of the ‘opt-out’ system, and that the public has confidence that the new system will work as it is intended to, for the benefit of patients."

Allan Marriott-Smith,
Chief Executive of the HTA



  • The HTA is the statutory regulator that ensures that when human tissue and organs are used, they are used safely and ethically, with proper consent.
  • NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. They provide the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK. They also provide donated tissues, stem cells and cord blood. 
  • NHSBT launched their year-long national ‘Pass it On’ campaign in 2019 to increase awareness and understanding of the new organ donation law.