New NHS organ donor register launched

Date published: 09 July 2015

Health Minister Simon Hamilton today welcomed the launch of a new NHS Organ Donor Register for the whole of the UK.

The NHS Organ Donor Register has been in operation for more than 20 years and more than 619,000 people in Northern Ireland have signed up to it, 34% of the total population. Around 42% of the adult population are on the Organ Donor Register.

The new Organ Donor Register extends the choices a person can record when they sign the Register. From 9 July 2015, a person will be able to register to:

  • be a donor
  • not to be a donor
  • record the details of up to two representatives, if they feel they would want someone to make that decision for them after death

The changes to the Organ Donor Register do not change the organ donation process in Northern Ireland, which is based on opting in to being a donor, and donors’ families giving consent for their organs to be used.

The new Organ Donor Register will hold all the existing registrations from the previous register so people who are already registered do not need to register again.

The Minister commented: "I welcome the launch of this new UK Organ Donor Register. Even if you are a registered donor, after your death your family will be asked if they agree to organ donation and any decision they make will be respected. When families or friends know your views on organ donation, it makes the decision much less difficult and gives them the confidence that they are following your wishes.

"There have been great improvements in organ donation in Northern Ireland in recent years, and the numbers of donors and transplants have risen dramatically in a short period of time. I am very grateful to the individuals and families who have shown courage and generosity in donating organs so that other lives can be saved.

"Every year, around 15 people in Northern Ireland die waiting for an organ transplant and currently only one third of the population here is on the Organ Donation Register. By signing the register and talking to your family about your wishes you could help save the lives of up to seven people."

Notes to editors: 

  1. If a person has not registered a decision at all on the ODR, then this only has implications in Wales; from December 2015 onwards, if a person in Wales chooses to do nothing and there is no registered decision for them, then it will be presumed that they had no objection to organ donation.
  2. The ‘opt out’ and ‘nominate a representative’ functions in the newly developed ODR are completely new for the UK.
  3. Organ donation consent rates across the UK remain at less than 60%.
  4. You can record your decision on the new NHS Organ Donor Register or by calling 0300 123 23 23.
  5. Media enquiries to DHSSPS Press Office on (028) 9052 0579. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.

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