New ‘opt-out’ organ donation bill moves a step closer to law

Max and Keira’s Law will be just a couple of stages away from coming into force in England after Tuesday's report stage

A new law that will force anyone who doesn’t want to donate their organs to opt-out will move a step closer towards coming into force today.

The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill will have its report stage hearing in the House of Lords this afternoon. The bill is more commonly known as Max and Keira’s Law after 11-year-old Max Johnson from Winsford, Cheshire, who received a new heart in 2017 from tragic Keira Bell after she lost her life in a car crash.

Having already progressed through the House of Commons, if it progresses through today’s hearing without amendment then a third reading of the bill will follow before the Queen gives it the Royal Assent needed to become law.

Sponsored by Conwy MP Geoffrey Robinson as well as Baron Philip Hunt of King’s Heath through the Lords, the bill will amend the Human Tissue Act 2004 to bring in the new rules.

It will be welcome news to people like Jim Lynskey (pictured). Jim’s story features in this week’s Big Issue magazine, where the 23 year old from Redditch tells us why he set up the Save9Lives campaign to help boost the number of organ donors.

“I guess it originated from my hospital bed,” said Jim. “During my research I first came across the fact that one donor can save nine lives. It stayed with me and eventually I turned it into this campaign.

“They generally try to match a donor of a similar age but there’s a chronic shortage of younger donors – understandably because older people generally die more than younger people. But it happens quite frequently that younger people will be fitted with an older person’s organ.

“A heart is what I’m searching for at the moment. The cut-off age [for donors] is 65. There was a young teenager I was in hospital with recently and she was fitted with a heart from a donor who was more than 60 years old, which speaks volumes of the chronic shortage of younger donors.

“There are cases, unfortunately, where young people die and their organs aren’t received because the conversation hasn’t been had and families don’t know what to do.”

Hopefully, the new legislation can help to fill the void.

For more on Jim’s story or to find out how “Scottish Ed Sheeran” Lewis Capaldi and former Doctor Who Peter Capaldi are helping to raise awareness of the need for organ donation, buy this week’s Big Issue magazine, available from vendors now or from The Big Issue Shop.

Image: Caters