HEALTHCARE professionals and campaigners are urging families to discuss organ donation, ahead of a new change in the law.

This spring, England will move to an 'opt-out' system - meaning that all adults in the country will be considered to have agreed to be a donor, unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of a number of excluded groups (including mentally-handicapped people and residents of the country who are not living here voluntarily).

The system change is sometimes referred to as 'Max and Keira's Law'.

Yet, despite the change, concerns remain that a considerable number of donations will still fall through where there is a degree of doubt among families.

In cases where it is not clear that the deceased person had expressed a will to donate, the family's doubt could override their wishes.

Around 6,000 people across the UK are waiting for an organ transplant currently. In December, 40 people in Cumbria were on a donation waiting list.

Yvonne Ivison, a South Walney teaching assistant who underwent a life-saving kidney transplant operation last summer, with her sister being the donor, said:

"It's very important we're having this 'opt-in' change, since there is still a huge number of people waiting on life-saving operations. And this new law will surely result in a significantly higher number of those people receiving transplants where they couldn't before."

Mrs Ivison has first-hand experience of a life-saving transplant. But, a a patient who received a 'live donation,' rather than a transplant from someone who had already passed away, she recognises that she and her family had never broached the private question of organ donation before she was faced with her diagnosis.

"Then, when it happens, you realise just how important that conversation is.

"One of the big problems too is that consent is requested within hours after the person's death. If a family says no, that's it.

"I think the government needs to approach this in a very sensitive way, given the subject. But it's hugely important - the need is massive."