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Wales begins 'deemed consent' organ donation system

Wales today became the first UK country to introduce a ‘deemed consent’ system for organ donation – under which people will be regarded as having consented unless they have proactively opted out.

The Welsh Government believes that the law change could lead to a 25% increase in the number of people donating organsm, while NHS Wales figures show that 14 people in Wales died while waiting for a transplant in 2014/15.

The number of people waiting for an organ has gone up recently; there are currently 224 people on the waiting list, including eight children, compared with 209 on 1 April.

The system is a ‘soft opt-out’ in that a person’s family and friends can block a donation if they know their loved one did not wish to be a donor - even if he/she had not opted out.

It will cover over-18s who die in the country after living there for more than 12 months.

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 a donor.

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.

’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.’

Readers' comments (3)

  • Ethically terible

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  • "if we’re going to make further progress we need a leap in consent rates, and that is why we have changed the law.’"

    That's not consent Mr Drakeford. That's the state assuming ownership of the bodies of it's citizens. Consent is where you ask and they say "yes".

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  • sounds very much like 'state-sponsored body parts snatching' to me.
    Ethically, legally and politically dubious in my opinion. Not saying 'no' is not the moral equivalence of implying 'yes', just ask the lawyers re: rape for instance.

    This is too big an issue to impose the 'implied consent' rule on the whole of society, more work needs to be done to get people to voluntarily decide to donate. If we can get the vast majority of drivers to possess a driving licence, or the public to get t.v. license/passport then surely an effective DOH drive to ask the population if they are happy or not to donate their organs when they die and centrally record this information is surely not beyond the wit of man. And it would remove the very emotive issue of asking recently bereaved relatives for permission (or in Wales case now, telling them) to harvest organs of a loved one.

    It will be interesting to see 1) if other home nations follow suit 2) the public response if or when the first scandals happens surrounding the process.

    Disgruntled GP Partner (3yrs)

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