Wales Has the Chance to Lead the Way in the UK; Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, Looks at the Issue of Organ Donation

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 31, 2012 | Go to article overview

Wales Has the Chance to Lead the Way in the UK; Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, Looks at the Issue of Organ Donation


Byline: Kirsty Williams

A STAGGERING 90% of people in the UK said that they would be happy for their organs to be used for transplantation - and yet, less than a third have actually joined the Organ Donation Register.

Transplanting organs and tissues is one of the most successful forms of medical treatment. One donor can improve or save up to nine lives by donating their organs or tissues.

Despite a steady increase in the number of people registered on the Organ Donation Register, there is still a shortage of organs for donation.

In Wales last year, 41 people died while waiting for an organ donor. It is therefore crucial that we have a system in place which maximises the number of potential donors available but - at the same time - one which ensures that an individual's right to opt out is fully protected.

Put simply, organ donation saves lives. This is why the Welsh Liberal Democrats feel that it is only right to improve the way that organ donation works in Wales.

Earlier this month the Welsh Government introduced the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly for Wales. The Bill recommends what is called a "soft" opt-out system for consent to deceased organ and tissue donation in Wales.

Its aim is to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplantation and to reduce the number of people who die while waiting for a suitable organ to become available.

The essential difference between the proposed opt-out system and what we have now is one of consent. Currently, an individual must join the Organ Donation Register in order for his or her organs to be used for transplantation purposes. In a soft opt-out system, it would be up to the individual to opt out of presumed membership to the Organ Donation Register.

In other words, a person's consent to donation would be presumed unless they had objected to it during their lifetime.

But in a "soft" opt-out system, the role of the family in informing the final decision on what happens to a relative's organs would remain critical. …

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