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"The problem with opt-outs is that - while it does save lives - people may not be aware that that is the default assumption.so people will be "donating" their organs without knowing they are doing that".

His search for a suitable heart was followed in a series of front-page stories in the Daily Mirror, as the newspaper campaigned for the change in the law.

"I've always been a supporter of organ donation, it's such a noble thing to do for people to give that gift - it really is the gift of life", he added.

Around 6,000 people in Britain are on the transplant waiting list and more than 400 patients died while waiting for a transplant past year, the public health service said.

Children, people with limited mental capacity and others who have not lived in England for at least a year prior to their death will be exempt from the scheme.

"If she can introduce legislation to pass budgets and set rates, then she can introduce a new measure which we know would immediately begin to save lives".

Hundreds of lives could be saved by a new opt-out system which will see adults over the age of 18 automatically registered for organ donation in the event of their death.

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The people who were shot weren't cooperating with investigators, and the circumstances of the shooting weren't immediately known. According to local reports , 25 were shot during five attacks in less than three hours alone.

Research found that 82% of people in England support organ donation, but only 37% have indicated so on the register.

Currently, would-be donors must indicate their intentions on the NHS Organ Donor Register, or grieving families must make the decision if a patient's wish to donate is unknown.

An "opt-out" system for organ donation will be introduced in the United Kingdom in a move that should save hundreds of lives a year, the government will announce today.

The UK has announced plans to introduce a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in a bid to meet the urgent need for organs for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

We believe that by making these changes, we can save as many as 700 more lives every year. According to the British Heart Foundation, fewer than half of families consent to their loved one's organs being donated if they are unaware of their wishes.

For some faiths, this would mean ensuring no delays in burial, so that any organ donation could only take place within such constraints.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "We're incredibly grateful to all the families in Tyne and Wear who have chosen to say "yes" to organ donation".