Wales has today become the first country in the UK to introduce a ‘revolutionary’ new system to increase the number of organ donors.
From today, Wales will move to a ‘soft opt-out’ system where people who are aged 18 and over, who have lived in Wales for more than 12 months and who die in Wales will be regarded as having consented to organ donation unless they have opted opt. This is called deemed consent.
People who want to be an organ donor can register a decision to opt in or do nothing, which will mean they have no objection to being an organ donor. Those people who do not want to be organ donor can opt out at any time.
It is estimated that the change to the organ donation law could lead to a 25% increase in the number of organ donors.
Latest figures show that 14 people in Wales died while waiting for a transplant during 2014-15. Currently there are 224 people on the Welsh transplant waiting list, including eight children, this is compared with 209 at the end of March 2014.
The latest polling to be released later today shows that 69% of people in Wales are aware of the organ donation changes, which is up from 63% earlier this year. Understanding of the new law is also high, with eight out of 10 people who are aware being able to describe the changes.
Speaking about the introduction of the Organ Donation Law, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “This is a day when we take a ground-breaking step in Wales, which will save lives. The latest figures show 14 people died last year in Wales while waiting for a transplant.
“The change to a soft opt-out system for organ donation will deliver a revolution in consent. Organ donation saves lives; increasing the rate of organ donation allows us to save more lives. That’s the key motivation for this significant change. Over the last 20 years a great deal has been achieved in improving medical practice in the field of organ donation but if we’re going to make further progress we need a leap in consent rates and that is why we have changed the law.
“I hope this change will prompt people to talk with their loved ones about their organ donation wishes. We have worked tirelessly to publicise the change and people’s choices under the new system. The latest figures show that awareness and understanding has continued to increase and I am satisfied that we have left no stone unturned in our efforts to reach the Welsh public on this issue.”