A NI woman who has been waiting eight years for a kidney transplant has said new laws to govern organ donation have the potential to save many lives.
The transplantation changes could help reduce organ shortages
Relatives will no longer be able to overturn a person's wish to be a donor.
Sarah Maxwell from County Down is waiting for her second transplant and undergoes dialysis three times a week.
"It is a very hard time for relatives, but anything that will increase the number of organs available will help people who are waiting," she said.
Approximately one in 10 possible donors are overturned by their families under the current system.
Under the Human Tissue Act, people will also face up to three years in jail if they remove and store human tissue without consent.
The changes apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and were prompted by a variety of scandals.
Human Tissue Act
Removal, storage and use of human tissue without consent illegal
DNA theft now an offence
Living donor transplants now allowed
Deceased's wishes take precedence over family for organ donation
Licenses needed for places carrying out post mortems and anatomy schools
Body parts exhibitions need licence
The act will also mean donation from strangers, including "altruistic" donation, will now be allowed.
A new regulatory authority called the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) will oversee the act, and will issue licences to places carrying out post-mortems, anatomy schools, establishments storing tissue for research, and sites that display human tissue, such as museums.
The HTA said it expected to be issuing licences to about 500 establishments.
Under the legislation, consent must now be given for body parts, organs or tissue to be removed, stored or used for purposes including research and post-mortem.
Failure to do this could result in a three-year prison sentence and/or a fine.