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Author Topic: Wales: Organ donation presumed consent plan reaches latest milestone  (Read 2805 times)

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Organ donation presumed consent plan reaches latest milestone
by Julia McWatt

The Welsh Government’s bid to introduce a presumed consent policy for organ donation has reached its latest milestone.

The Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill which will introduce a “soft” opt-opt system of organ donation will be laid down for scrutiny on December 3 by the National Assembly by Health Minister Lesley Griffiths.

Under the proposed system, unless a person registers either a wish to be a donor or not to be a donor, their consent to donation will be deemed to have been given.

People would have to put in place a clear indication of their wish not to donate their organs for them to be excluded from donation after death.

Although families will be able to challenge whether a relative’s organs can be donated if it is extremely distressing or they can provide strong evidence it is against the person’s wishes, then a deceased person’s organs and tissues will be made available.

Wales is the first UK nation to propose introducing the system, designed to increase the number of organ and tissue donors.

About 31% of people in Wales have signed the Organ Donation Register and there are currently around 300 people waiting for an organ transplant, with one person dying each week.

Ms Griffiths has repeatedly reaffirmed the Welsh Government’s commitment to passing a law for an opt-out system for organ donation.

In launching the draft Bill, she said: “One donor can improve or save the lives of up to nine other people by donating their organs and many more through the donation of their tissues.

“Wales has seen a 49% increase in donation rates since 2008, which is a huge achievement to be proud of.

“However, there is still a shortage of organs for transplant. In 2011-12, sadly 37 people in Wales died while waiting for an organ.

“I believe the time has come to introduce a change in the law, together with an extensive communication and education programme encouraging people to make a decision and to ensure their families know their wishes.”

Consultation responses to the Bill published in October revealed a negative response to the proposals, however this was blamed on an orchestrated campaign by organisations opposed to the move.

The Welsh Government said the majority of responses appeared to be part of campaigns after 2,395 of the 2,981 responses received were found to be identical.

Instead, officials pointed to a survey which found that, out of 1,000 people, 49% were in favour of opt-out, while 22% were against and 21% needed more information about a soft opt-out system.

Speaking after the publication of the responses, NHS Wales medical director Dr Chris Jones, said: “As we invited critical thought on the elements of the draft Bill, we knew that we would get some critical comments.

“The standard letters we received did seem to be from lobbying organisations.

“Some comments did pertain to the legislative proposal, but they also contained some highly misleading comments and some individuals who received letters have said they didn’t know what they were signing.

“The purpose for this Bill is to increase the availability of organs for transplant. Wales has made significant progress over the past couple of years and is now one of the best performing countries in Europe for organ donations, but we want to improve things further.”

Campaign groups and religious organisations, including the Church in Wales, have been outspoken about a move to an opt-out system, while Christian group CARE have made calls for the Welsh Government to think again about Bill as a means for increasing donor rates.

CARE chief executive Nola Leach said: “The Welsh Government’s proposed solution poses a threat to the concept of consent between the state and an individual which underpins the patient-doctor relationship, and has not been proven to work in practice. Organ donation should continue to be an altruistic gift bequeathed voluntarily and ethically.”
Unrelated directed kidney donor in 2003, recipient and I both well.
625 time blood and platelet donor since 1976 and still giving!
Elected to the OPTN/UNOS Boards of Directors & Executive, Kidney Transplantation, and Ad Hoc Public Solicitation of Organ Donors Committees, 2005-2011
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