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Government consultation on opt-out system for organ and tissue donation

20 December 2017

The Government has launched a consultation on a proposal to change the consent for organ and tissue donation to an ‘opt out system’. Although 8 out of 10 people say they would want to donate their organs and tissue after their death, most people never register to be organ donors.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists represents ophthalmologists, many of whom are involved in transplantation. Corneal transplantation involves replacing a patient’s damaged or scarred cornea (the normally clear window to the eye)  with a cornea gifted from a deceased donor. This is a very successful procedure and improves the sight of over 6,000 people in the UK every year but there is a shortage of donors.

Under current rules in England, a person who has died can only be an organ donor if they have agreed to it when they were alive, usually by joining the organ donor register or telling their family or friends. A health professional will check the donor register to see if consent has or has not been given and seek permission from the deceased’s family.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists will be developing a College response to the consultation but encourages all members to contribute directly to the consultation.

More information about organ donation can be found at