The NHS Blood and Transplant service has introduced a faith and belief declaration on the registration form for the NHS Organ Donation Register. You can view it here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/register-your-details/
A person’s faith or belief system is not recorded as part of their donor record. But this new declaration gives all potential and existing organ and tissue donors the opportunity to simply state whether they would like NHS staff to speak to their family and anyone else appropriate (such as their faith leader) about how organ donation can go ahead in line with their faith and beliefs – whatever those are. The organ donation consultation in England highlighted the importance of faith and belief to many potential donors. We wanted to acknowledge this, and to provide extra reassurance to individuals and to wider faith and belief communities
NHS specialist nurses routinely discuss faith, beliefs and culture with families of those who have registered their wish to donate on the NHS Organ Donation Register. We hope this new faith and belief declaration will further reassure families and others who support organ donation, but who may have specific questions or concerns around how it fits with their beliefs. These concerns might include whether a family or faith leader will have time to say prayers, how washing and dressing requirements might be respected or whether swift burial will be possible following organ donation.
Specialist nurses have access to the NHS Organ Donation Register so they can see if someone has made the decision to donate their organs and discuss this with the person’s family during end of life care. While they cannot see what faith and belief someone holds, they can see if someone has responded to the faith declaration statement positively and asked that specialist NHS staff discuss their faith and beliefs further with their family and others important to their beliefs.
NHS Blood and Transplant released the news about this new feature to the media on 13 December 2018 and you can see the news story about it here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/news-and-campaigns/news/faith-and-beliefs-declaration/
A leaflet has been produced which provides more information about the declaration and gives responses to questions you and others in your community may have about it. You can download a copy here: https://bristolmultifaithforum.org.uk/qa-final/
New downloadable donor cards are also available
During the Government’s organ donation consultation in England, some faith groups and individual observers of faith and beliefs, also requested visible ways for people to show their support for organ donation in the context of their faith and beliefs. A donor card is not needed for organ donation to go ahead when someone has registered to donate on the NHS Organ Donation Register, but we know that many people see the organ donor card as a useful symbol to show their support, or to start conversations with their families about organ donation.
The NHS Blood and Transplant service have gone live with designs based on discussions with faith and belief groups. The digital donor cards can be downloaded, shared on social media or printed out and kept in purses or wallets so an individual’s decision on organ donation can be clearly understood. You can find them here:
We hope you welcome these new measures and that you find them reassuring. The NHS Blood and Transplant service is committed to keep engaging with faith and belief-based organisations, faith and pastoral care leaders.
Thank you for your interest and support in organ donation. Together we can save lives.