The service’s Blood and Transplant department has launched a pilot scheme to intercept customers who buy and plan pre-paid funerals, and ask them to consider becoming an organ donor at the same time.
Rest Assured Funeral Plans will champion its new approach for the next two months by raising the notion of signing the NHS Organ Donor Register during face to face appointments with customers.
Betsy Bassis, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “When people are at the point of making arrangements for their funeral, it will often follow that they will also be making other significant decisions about their end of life affairs.
“We are pleased to be working with Rest Assured to be able to provide people with information about organ donation at this important point in their lives. We very much hope that schemes like this will help encourage the discussion of organ donation as a natural part of the end of life process.”
Rest Assured Funeral Plans’ customers are being given the chance to put their names on the NHS Organ Donor Register when buying a funeral plan. If they don’t, they will be given further opportunity to join online at a later time. They will also receive organ donation information in their welcome pack.
Both organisations will monitor the public’s response to the scheme. If successful, NHS Blood and Transplant hopes other funeral plan companies will follow suit, allowing it to reach tens of thousands of people as they make key end of life decisions.
Rest Assured Funeral Plans’ CEO, Thomas Loughran, said: “The advent of the funeral plan, and funeral plan companies, has made it possible to reach many more people when they are making end of life arrangements. Raising the subject of organ donation with our customers when they are purchasing a funeral plan is logical and progressive.
“We feel sure Rest Assured’s customers will respond positively and elect to sign the Organ Donation Register when they may otherwise not have done so.”
Corrine Hynes, the 26-year-old fiancée of “hero” organ donor David Llewellyn whose lungs, kidneys, liver, heart and pancreas saved the lives of five people after his death in January this year backed the scheme.
She described it as “brilliant and brave” for “identifying the perfect situation and moment to discuss organ donation.”
She said: “It is difficult to have the conversation around organ donation. People often say they are not ready to talk about it, but this NHS scheme prompts the conversation in a natural way. The scenario you are in when buying a funeral plan is perfect for addressing the matter. It goes hand in hand with a decision to sign the Organ Donation Register.
“The connection between planning a funeral and planning what happens to your body after you’ve died is obvious. This is an intelligent and positive move from the NHS and Rest Assured Funeral Plans.”
In spring 2020, the law around organ donation in England will change. All adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die, unless they record an “opt out” decision not to donate, or are in an excluded group.