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Wales to adopt opt-out organ donation

The Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill, passed by a strong majority vote earlier this week, will make Wales the first part of the UK to move to an opt-out system, and marks a significant break with the current system whereby patients have to opt in to donation by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.

But the Welsh bill is described as a ‘soft’ opt-out system because it acknowledges vetoes to consent made by relatives and friends of long standing based on any knowledge they may have about the wishes of the deceased. The new system, which is expected to increase the number of donors for transplant but which had faced opposition from some religious communities, could come into force by 2015.

The BMA’s Welsh Secretary Dr Richard Lewis said: ‘I believe that this is the most important piece of legislation created in Wales since the laws of Hywel Dda.’

‘A few years ago, Wales were ready to lead the UK on banning smoking in public places, but we didn’t have the necessary legal powers. This time we are delighted that our National Assembly has shown the rest of the UK the way forward and fully support its implementation. We congratulate AMs for their enlightenment.’

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