Organ donation law in Northern Ireland

The current legislation for Northern Ireland is to opt in to organ and tissue donation; you can do this by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and sharing your decision with your family. You can also record a decision not to be a donor.

You can also nominate up to two representatives to make the decision for you. These could be family members, friends, or other people you trust, such as your faith leader.

Following consideration of the issue, in 2020 the health minister announced his intention to pursue a change to an opt-out system for organ donation, as is already seen in Wales, Jersey, England and Scotland.

An image of Belfast City Hall bathed in pink light in support of Organ Donation Week 2017
Belfast City Hall illuminated in pink in support of Organ Donation Week

A public consultation has demonstrated widespread support for an opt-out system and in July 2021 the Organ and Tissue Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill began the formal legislative process through the Northern Ireland Assembly.

If the bill proceeds successfully through the required stages, it is hoped it will receive Royal Assent before the end of the current government’s mandate in May 2022. At this point the bill would become an act but implementation of the new law would not take place until sometime later when public promotion and training have taken place.

Find out more about the progress of the bill

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