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Humanists UK celebrates Organ Donation Week and new organ donation laws

Humanists UK is marking Organ Donation Week (7–13 September 2020) by celebrating the progress humanists have made in reforming organ donation laws across the UK. New ‘opt-out’ organ donation laws came into effect in England in May this year, following on from Wales in 2015 and Jersey in 2019.

Humanists UK has partnered with its patron, the broadcaster Jamie Theakston, and NHS Blood and Transplant to create new awareness videos about the new law in England, emphasising the humanist perspective on organ donation. Humanists UK will also be sharing stories and graphics highlighting the impact and the positive value of organ donation across its social media platforms.

In one of the videos, Jamie explains why he’s glad to learn of the change in the law, saying. He says:

‘As a humanist, I believe that we only get one life, and so we have to make it count. And I believe it’s equally important to support other people in making the most of their lives too.

‘As a humanist I believe that we can’t take our organs with us when we die… but even after they’ve stopped being of any use to us, being an organ donor means you can save or improve the lives of people on the waiting list for a transplant.

‘Organ donation is one of the easiest, kindest things you can ever do.’

The new organ donation law now presumes, based on strong polling evidence, that most people are happy to donate their organs after they die if this will help to save a life. Those with religious or other reasons for wanting to opt out of the organ donor register can do so on the NHS website. The family of the deceased can also raise an objection to donation if they know of undeclared wishes.

In Wales, where opt-out organ donation was introduced in 2015, the new system is thought to have boosted consent rates for organ donation from 58% to 75%.

A similar system will come into effect in Scotland in March 2021, and in Guernsey following a formal ordinance to activate legislation which came into effect this May.


For further comment or information, please contact Rachel Taggart-Ryan at or phone 07951 176 245.

See the Humanists UK organ donation information page.

Read everything you need to know about the new organ donation law.

Download your own NHS humanist donor card.

Read more about our work on organ donation.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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