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Opt-out organ donation reform moves step closer to becoming UK law

By Richard Wheeler, Press Association Parliamentary Editor

Reforms to organ donation have moved a step closer to becoming law after clearing the latest parliamentary hurdle.

Peers made no changes to the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill during its committee stage in the House of Lords.

The backbench Bill seeks to introduce a new opt-out system for organ donation in England.

Adults will be presumed to be organ donors unless they have specifically recorded their decision not to be, a move the Government estimates will save hundreds of lives each year.

Wales introduced an opt-out system in 2015 while the Scottish Government has also tabled legislation on the issue.

Speaking during the debate, Conservative former health minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said the system of deemed consent would allow people to express a preference to not have their organs donated - something he said they could not express now.

He said: "It must be the case under the system we have now that some people's organs are being donated because their family agree, even though they would not have agreed, which cannot be right.

"I used to be a sceptic of opt-out type systems but I think the proposal that is here in legislation, that has been demonstrated to work in Wales, gets the right balance between giving people that power and control but also making sure they can make a positive choice if they are well informed."

Speaking for the Government, Tory frontbencher Baroness Manzoor also told peers: "Even if one life is saved as a result of this change in culture... then it must be surely worth it."

The Bill cleared the Commons last year and is in its final stages in the Lords.