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News - Welsh Government Plans to Introduce 'Opt-Out' Organ Donation

A proposed timetable will see an opt-out organ donation Bill introduced into the National Assembly for Wales next year with the new system implemented in 2015.

It would make Wales the first country in the UK to make a change from the current ‘opt-in’ organ donation system.

Welsh health minister Lesley Griffiths said:

“When people die, donation of their organs and tissues is often possible but currently does not happen – not because they did not wish to donate, but because they never got round to joining the organ donor register,” she said.

The British Heart Foundation said nine in 10 people support organ donation and yet fewer than three in 10 have joined the register.

“An opt-out system would better reflect the wishes of the majority of people and fill the void between good intention and action,” said Maura Gillespie, BHF’s policy and advocacy manager.

“Wales has taken a substantial and significant step towards implementing a proven system that will see more heart patients receive the organs they need to stay alive.

“The UK’s other governments should take a careful look at these legislative blueprints which show, with proper infrastructure and training for doctors, an opt-out system would prove to be the difference between life and death for many families.”

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said it welcomes “any change that encourages people to discuss and support organ donation and we will work within whatever legislative framework is introduced in any of the four health administrations in the United Kingdom”.

As the UK Organ Donor Organisation, NHSBT said it will be involved in implementation of the new policy and will also be considering the implications for the other nations of the UK whose consent system will not be changed by the new legislation.

Research shows that most people in the UK would accept an organ if they needed a transplant but only 29 per cent of people have committed to donate an organ after death by joining the Organ Donor Register.

Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire Glyn Davies has raised concerns about the move.

He said presumed consent “undermines trust”.

“I don’t mind moving towards a presumptive attitude because almost everybody is in favour of organ donation so it’s reasonable to have a presumptive attitude,” he said.

“But if there’s presumed consent, then there’s a suspicion and I think that does affect trust.”

Click here to read the full NHSBT statement.