AS families gather to celebrate Christmas, doctors are asking people to consider passing on the gift of life.

In the New Year, the laws around organ donation are changing and the NHS is urging people to talk about their choices with their families.

All adults in England will be considered to have agreed to donate their own organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate, known as 'opting out', or are in one of the excluded groups.

But doctors are telling the inspiring stories of people who selflessly chose to donate their organs in a bid to save lives.

One family who know the importance of having the conversation, are the family of 18-year-old Billy Gradwell-Smith, who died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage in December 2016, while at home from university for the Christmas holidays.

Billy’s father, Trevor, said: “When we were told Billy wasn’t going to make it, we already knew he wanted to donate his organs. He was a fantastic, positive kid and had made sure to tell the family after signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register while applying for his provisional driving licence.

“He started a discussion with the three of us and we sat around and talked about it. As a direct result of this discussion we had already prepared as a family for the question by the time we were approached by the specialist nurse for organ donation.

“Billy was all for donating everything, anything that could be of use to anybody. He said when you are gone you are gone; the organs would be no use to him. By making his decision clear, he made a difficult situation easier for us, and ensured he didn’t miss the opportunity to save lives.”

The NHS has launched a campaign to encourage people to 'pass on' their organs, including a TV advert to prompt conversations about donation at Christmas, as families gather together.

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, says: “Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year; however, it should also be a time for family and thinking of others.

“We want everyone to know the law around organ donation is changing, to understand how it is changing and the choices available to them. We want them to make their organ donation decision and whatever that decision is, to share it with their family. A time like Christmas, when families come together, is a good opportunity to do this. Every precious organ donor allows more families to spend special times together.”

To find out more about your choices, and to register your donation decision, visit: or call the dedicated advice line on 0300 303 2094.