A four-year campaign by the Daily Mirror has come to fruition today as the law for organ donation has been changed to assume automatic consent upon death for all adults in England, unless they opt out.
The Mirror’s front page heralded the life-changing moment for its ‘Change for Law for Life’ campaign, but also highlighted how organ donation has been severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
The legislation is known as Max and Keira’s Law, in memory of Keira Ball, the nine-year-old girl who saved four lives from her father’s decision to allow doctors to use her organs when she died in a car crash in 2017.
The Mirror’s campaign tracked the plight of Max Johnson, aged 9 at the time, who received Keira’s heart.
The paper strengthened its calls for recognition of those on the transplant waiting list as it reported a slump in transplants due to the coronavirus crisis. In an exclusive today the face of the campaign, organ recipient Max Johnson, led an appeal to the public asking “don’t waste your organs when you die”.
Although Max and Keira’s Law becomes a reality for adults in England, the opt-out rule does not apply to under 18s and parents still have to give their consent for donation of children’s organs.
The Mirror continues its crusade for changes to organ donation legislation after winning the Chairman’s Award at the SoE’s National Press Awards 2018 for the far-reaching effect of the campaign.
Judges said at the time that the Mirror showed compassion, superb investigation skills and dogged determination to see the law changed.
The Awards Chairman Ian Murray said in 2019 the paper’s work “shines out as a fantastic example of what outstanding journalism can achieve.”
Today the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, paid tribute to the law and its supporters: “We celebrate a milestone for organ donation as we move to a new system of deemed consent in England which will mean hundreds more lives could be transformed each year. I want to pay tribute to Max, Keira and everyone else who campaigned for this change.”
Below, the winning campaign in 2018.