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.’