ODR registrations

Over one million registered organ donors

28 March 2023

There are now over one million people in Northern Ireland registering their decision to be considered a potential organ donor after death. 

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has welcomed the latest figures released 8 March, for organ donation in Northern Ireland. They reveal that there are now over one million (1,007,382) adults in Northern Ireland registering their decision to be considered a potential organ donor after death.  That’s over 16,000 potential lifesavers in the 6 months from September 2022.

We know that 90% of people in Northern Ireland support organ donation, so while over one million opt-ins are to be celebrated, it equates to 53% of the population, so there still exists a gap between intention and action.

Last May, the PHA launched a new ‘Lifesaver’ campaign to help raise awareness of the change in law, also known as Dáithí’s Law.  The campaign has helped to educate people on what the law-change means and the choices available to them, as well as to reinforce the importance of family conversations around donation decisions. 

Aidan Dawson, CEO of the Public Health Agency welcomed the latest figures saying:

“It is extremely encouraging to see the continued support for organ donation here. Ahead of the new legislation coming into effect on 1 June, the Public Health Agency are continuing to educate people on the law change and to raise awareness of organ donation generally.  Activity to date through our public information campaigns, and support from all our partners, is borne out in the rise we see in those registering as organ donors.

A key message relates to the importance of family conversations. As very few of us will die in hospital, in circumstances where donation may be clinically possible, it is vitally important that our decisions are known.  Should the worst happen, families can find the organ donation conversation much easier if they already know what their relative would have wanted. Only around half of families agree to organ donation going ahead if they don’t know their loved ones’ decision, but this rises to 9 out of 10 if the family has had a conversation or recorded their decision.  As such, the NHS Organ Donor Register will continue to play an important role up to and after the change in law.”

Last year in Northern Ireland, 55 families supported the gift of organ donation, which enabled 127 life-saving transplants across the UK.  Organ donation is a most precious gift and the selfless act of donors and their families is at the heart of organ donation.  100 lives in Northern Ireland were saved and transformed through organ donation last year, however, there are around 156 people awaiting a transplant, waiting for the call to give them ‘the gift of life’. 

The new Organ and Tissue Donation (Deemed Consent) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022, when it comes into effect on 1 June, means in the event that organ donation is a possibility after you die, it will be deemed that all adults agree to being considered as an organ donor when they die unless they choose to opt out or are in an excluded group*.  The best way to opt out is by registering a decision not to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

As organ and tissue donation and transplantation saves and transforms hundreds of lives each year, the new law will help more people save more lives by making it easier for those who support organ donation to say ‘yes’ to giving the ‘gift of life’. 

Only 1% of people will die in circumstances where donation is possible, generally in hospital on a ventilator, which illustrates the shortage of organs and why every donation is precious.  Sadly, last year in Northern Ireland 15 people died awaiting a transplant.

You can continue to register an opt-in decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register up to and after the law change.  By doing so, you can proactively show your support for organ donation, giving loved ones the confidence and comfort to support your decision.