A SALISBURY woman who received a life-saving transplant when she was a child has welcomed a new law that will reform the organ donation system in England.

Lucy Ryan launched an online petition in 2015, joining other campaigners across the country, to push for the introduction of an opt out organ and tissue donation system in England.

Today (May 20), Max and Keira’s Law – the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act, came into effect, which means all adults in England will be considered potential organ donors, unless they “opt out” or are in one of the excluded groups.

“I must admit I feel relieved and really glad because it’s been almost five years since I started [campaigning],” said Lucy. “I’m really glad it is finally happening.”

Those excluded include people under 18, those who lack the mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action; people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily and those who have nominated someone else to make the decision on their behalf.

The system is already in place in Wales.

Lucy had a heart transplant in 1993 – a month before her third birthday. She said: “It saved my life. I would not have lived much beyond the age of three probably without it. It has totally changed my life. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been really healthy so I’ve done all my education, can work full-time, I can, well not at the moment, go travelling.” said the 30-year-old.

“It has opened my eyes to the transplant world. One of the reasons I started [the campaign] was I’ve had friends who haven’t been so lucky who were on the waiting list and couldn’t get transplants in time.”

Lucy says that over the last five years she has seen attitudes towards organ donation change and adds: “I’ve noticed people’s attitudes have definitely changed in the last five years. Some people were quite hostile or quite worried about it because they didn’t know a lot about transplantation. There has been a lot of awareness raised with different programmes on TV and I think people think of transplants as more normal now. I’m hoping when it comes in to force it will become a normal part of people’s conversations.”

She is encouraging people to talk about their organ donation wishes with loved ones.

Families will still be consulted over organ donation. In cases, where the individual has not expressed a decision, specialist nurses will support families to make a decision, based on what their loved ones would have wanted. If the decision is not to donate, this will be honoured and upheld.

Anthony Clarkson, the director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, said: “We are very pleased that Max and Keira’s Law has passed its final round of parliamentary approval and we welcome the new legislation.

“It is important that people know they will still have a choice whether or not to donate. Families will still be consulted, and people’s faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected.

“We hope this law change will prompt all of us to consider whether or not we would want to donate our organs and encourage us all to register and share our decision with our family and friends."

"We want people to know that there is no deadline to making your donation decision, you can register your choice at any time."

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