Welsh Health Minister celebrates that ‘Opt-out organ donation scheme has transformed lives’

Five years ago Wales led the way in the UK by introducing a soft opt-out system of organ donation.

3 December 2020

‘Lives have been transformed by the introduction of a soft opt-out system of consent for organ donation in Wales and we should be proud of what we have achieved’ – Health Minister Vaughan Gething said on the fifth anniversary of the scheme’s introduction.

NHS Organ Donor CardFive years ago (on the 1 December 2015) Wales led the way in the UK by introducing a soft opt-out system of organ donation, where presumed consent was given for organ donation unless the person had opted out.

Since this time, England have now also changed to an opt-out system, Scotland will do so next year and Northern Ireland will also be consulting on a similar change.

Since the scheme was first introduced, the number of people opting into the NHS Organ Donor Register in Wales has risen 4% from 1,138,527 in 2016/17 to 1,300,494 in the first two quarters of 2020/21.

Consent rates for donation have also recently reached an all-time high in Wales of 77% in 2018/19, after they were as low as 58% in 2015/16.

There were more than 200 organ transplants completed on Welsh patients in each of the last two years; an 11% rise from 180 in 2017/18.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Over the last five years we have seen people’s lives being transformed after receiving an organ. Not only this, but the families of donors have also taken solace in the fact their loved ones have given the gift of life to others.

“None of this would have been possible without the generosity of donors and their families, who give their support, as well as the dedication of all the clinical staff involved.

“We should be incredibly proud of leading the way with an organ donation opt-out scheme in Wales and showing the rest of the UK that such a scheme could work.

“Our achievements have not only saved lives and improved people’s quality of life, but also acted as an example about what a compassionate country can do to care for its citizens.

“There will always be room for improvement and people still need to have the confidence to discuss the matter of organ donation with their families, but the progress we have made in the last five years will be felt for generations to come.”