First steps in opt-out donor system welcomed
A PROPOSED law which could help save lives has been welcomed by people and politicians.
The Welsh Government has taken the first step in introducing legislation to create an opt-out system for organ donation, instead of the current opt-in system.
Yesterday the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill was laid before the Welsh Assembly.
To coincide with it, a new publicity campaign has been launched alongside two international evidence reviews into soft opt-out systems and the role of relatives.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "Organ donation saves and improves lives. We are delivering on our commitment, supported by the public, to introduce an opt-out system of organ donation.
"The role of the family is critical in informing the final decision on what happens to their relative's organs. The wishes of the deceased are paramount and the vast majority of the people of Wales do expect their wishes to be what really counts. For that reason, as is the case now, the family has no legal right to veto but, in practice, a clinician would never add to their distress by insisting on donation."
Plaid Cymru Health spokeswoman, Elin Jones AM said the party welcomed the system.
She added: "More and more people are waiting for transplants every year and as things stand too many people are dying while on the waiting list and it would be wrong not to act. We know from studies and first-hand experience that there are a lot of people who would like to be organ donors but may not be registered to do so."
The Liberal Democrats also welcomed the bill, but added that "communication was key".
Shadow Health Minister Kirsty Williams said: "A switch to presumed consent will mean there are more organs available for people waiting for a transplant. Wales has an opportunity to lead the way in the UK to ensure that people who are on the waiting list for organs do not die unnecessarily, but this emotive issue must be conducted carefully by the Welsh Government who must communicate with the people of Wales throughout the process.
"The Welsh Government has stated that it is to run a campaign in order to encourage families to talk about organ donation. This, I believe, is essential. Communication will be key if this bill is going to make progress through the Senedd."
Those who have experienced the life-changing effects of organ donation have also welcomed the bill.
Helen Jones, 44, of Glynneath, suffered from the rare kidney condition glomerulosclerosis, and was on dialysis three times a week for about six years and as a result had a very poor quality of life.
Six years ago, she received the life-changing call to say there was a kidney for her.
She said: "Hopefully the law will be passed in Wales, and there will be more organs available to help save more lives."