SHAREE Tingle and Emma Craven will never forget the donors who saved their lives.

If it wasn’t for their generous ‘gift of life’, Sharee and Emma probably wouldn’t be here to tell the tale about their transplant experience and give hope to others in similar circumstances.

Before receiving her double lung transplant, Sharee, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, was so breathless she couldn’t even put her arms up to brush her hair.

She was on oxygen for 24 hours a day and was struggling to walk a short distance. Thanks to the generosity of her donor, Sharee, from Bradford, was given a new lease of life.

Similarly, Emma Craven thanks her generous donor every day. Just before her 30th Birthday Emma was diagnosed with an inherited form of the condition dilated cardiomyopathy. Sunday April 21 marked the third anniversary of the 39-year-old’s heart transplant.

Now many more people like Sharee and Emma could be given a life-saving opportunity following the recent announcement that, from 2020, adults in England will be considered potential donors unless they choose to opt out or are excluded.

On March 15 the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill received Royal Assent meaning the bill is now an act of Parliament.

The Organ Donation Act means adults in England will be considered potential donors unless they choose to opt out or are excluded. The act is known as Max and Keira’s law in honour of a boy who received a heart transplant and the girl who donated it.

“As a double lung transplant recipient I think that Max and Keira’s law is a huge step forwards in organ donation and saving lives,” says Sharee.

“I do still believe however, that education is key and that people need to be educated about organ donation in order to dispel the misconceptions surrounding organ donation.

“Families also need to be aware of loved ones choices and decisions because no amount of legislation will remove the families right to refuse to honour a loved ones choice or wish.

“I think it is important that the system has changed because I believe that if you’re truly against something you will go out of your way to do something about it, yet if you think “yeah I agree with organ donation,” you might not necessarily get round to signing the register.

“More than 450 relatives of organ donors declined permission to donate as they were unsure of their relatives’ wishes in 2018.

“To my family: I AM a Registered donor. When I die, I am done. Give my organs to someone who needs them.”

Emma also welcomes the new law: “The law that is coming in will help save and improve more lives. It is a really good idea considering I had a heart transplant as well. If it wasn’t for my donor I wouldn’t be here.

“I am grateful every day that I am alive and I have a second chance to live.”

There are more than 6,000 people currently waiting for an organ in the UK. Three people die each day while on the waiting list. The new law will help to reduce the number of people waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Changes to the way consent is granted will take effect in 2020. Before this happens, the government will launch a public awareness campaign to make sure people understand the new system and the choices they have.

Those excluded from the plans include: children under 18; people who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes for a significant period before their death; people who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death.

There will also be strict safeguards in place and specialist nurses will always discuss donation with families so an individual’s wishes are respected.

Eighty per cent of people in England support organ donation but only 38 per cent have opted in. This means families are often left with a difficult decision when a loved one dies.

Currently, less than half of families give consent for their loved one’s organs to be donated if they are unaware of their wishes. When families know what their loved one would have wanted, they are much more likely to honour these wishes.

Those who do not wish to donate their organs will be able to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donation Register through NHS Blood and Transplant’s website or helpline.

The government will also consult on whether certain organs should be excluded from the opt-out system.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, at NHS Blood and Transplant says they hope when the law is implemented in Spring 2020 more people and families will agree to donation, enabling more lifesaving transplants to take place as has happened in Wales since their move to an Opt-Out organ donation system.

“We hope that the new law encourages more people to have the conversation about organ donation and people have time to do so before the law comes into effect. Even after the new law is implemented, our Specialist Nurses will still speak with a potential donor’s family and we know that families who have spoken about donation previously find it much easier to support their relative’s decision, whatever that decision is.

“Right now, over 6,000 people in the UK are on the transplant waiting list, while last year over 400 people died waiting. Organ donation will always be a precious gift and if more people are inspired to support and agree to donation, then many more lives can be saved.”