Landmark day for organ donation law in Wales – soft ‘opt-out’ system comes into force
Today, Tuesday 1st December 2015, a new law covering organ and tissue donation in Wales comes into force and a soft ‘opt-out’ system is introduced.
The changes mean people aged 18 and over who have lived in Wales for more than 12 months and die in Wales will be regarded as having consented to organ donation unless they have made a clear decision not to become a donor. That decision can recorded on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Across the UK there is a shortage of organ donors. Around 7,000 people are on the UK transplant waiting list, but three people a day die in need of a transplant.
Wales is the first UK country to introduce a soft ’opt-out’ system for consent for organ and tissue donation. The new law aims to increase the number of people in Wales who donate their organs after death.
Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant’s Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation, said: “Today is a landmark day for organ donation in Wales and everybody will be watching to see the impact of the changes. We all want to see more lives saved by organ donation and we welcome any changes which generate discussion and support for organ donation. NHS Blood and Transplant has worked closely with the Welsh Government to make this legislation a success.
“We urgently need more people to say yes to organ donation. Across the UK there is a shortage of organ donors and in order to save more lives it is vital more people talk about organ donation and commit to being an organ donor. The changes in Wales do not remove the need for organ donation conversations. Donation is much more likely if people have thought about organ donation in life and discussed their decision with their family. We urge people to have the conversation today.”
Under the new ‘opt-out’ system qualifying adults living in Wales will have a number of choices: to register to be an organ donor (opt-in), register a decision not to be an organ donor (opt-out), appoint someone to make the decision on their behalf, or do nothing.
From today in Wales people will be viewed as having no objection to organ donation unless they have made a clear decision otherwise. This is called deemed consent.
Registering a donation decision can be done on the NHS Organ Donor Register or by telling family and friends of the decision.
NHS Blood and Transplant Specialist Nurses – Organ Donation will continue to support family and friends through the donation process.
When a person dies in Wales in circumstances where they would be able to donate their organs for transplant is different. Further information including full details of who the law applies to and exemptions.