Organ donation law in Northern Ireland

On 1 June 2023, the law around organ donation in Northern Ireland was changed to allow more people to save more lives.

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

Now that the law has changed, it will be considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die, if:

You still have a choice whether or not you want to become an organ donor, and can register or amend your decision at any time.

Who does it affect?

The opt out system applies to everyone in Northern Ireland, except for those who are part of what are called excluded groups.

Excluded groups are:

  • Those under the age of 18
  • People who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action
  • Visitors to Northern Ireland, and those not living here voluntarily
  • People who have lived in Northern Ireland for less than 12 months before their death

 

Why was it introduced?

There has been tremendous progress in organ donation but there is still a shortage of donors.

Since 2015 Wales, Jersey, England, Scotland and Guernsey have all changed their organ donation laws to Opt-Out. It is hoped that these law changes will support the progress made and help to increase donation rates across the UK.

Find out more on the legislative journey of the Act

What do you need to do?

  1. Use the information on this page to help you understand how the system works
  2. Register your organ donation decision
  3. Talk to your loved ones about what you've decided. Your family will be consulted if organ donation is a possibility, even in an opt out system

The new law will be known as Dáithí’s Law in recognition of Dáithí Mac Gabhann, who has been on the waiting list for a heart transplant since 2018, when he was just a baby.

Find out more about what the law changes will mean



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