Opt-out scheme for organ donation given go-ahead in Wales

People will be considered as having consented for organ donation unless they use the 'opt-out' system

Wales is set to become the first country in the UK where people will be considered to have consented for organ donation unless they specifically opt out.

The current system across the UK relies on people signing up to a voluntary scheme and carrying a donor card stating they are willing to donate their organs.

Now ministers in Cardiff Bay who are keen to drive up low transplant rates believe the new scheme will save countless lives.

A Bill for Wales to adopt a system of presumed consent passed its final stage in the Welsh Assembly last night - despite moral objections from religious groups and concerns about it adding greater distress to bereaved family members.

Assembly Members (AMs) voted in favour of the Bill by 43 votes to eight, with two abstentions.

The new consent law would mean that people aged 18 and over will have to choose not to donate their organs when they die if they have lived in Wales for more than 12 months.

Organs made available under the system would be the same as the “opt-in” method - including kidneys, heart, liver, lungs and pancreas - and could be donated anywhere in the UK.

Ministers have stressed the scheme will be implemented sensitively and are planning to launch a major publicity drive to ensure people are fully informed about which choice to make.

The Bill was guaranteed success as the 30-strong Labour group in the Assembly was whipped to vote in favour.

Conservative and Plaid Cymru AMs were given a free vote, and the Lib Dems said all five of their AMs backed the opt-out system.

The new law is set to come into force after the Welsh Government has launched a two-year £8 million publicity campaign in 2015 and has been described as a historic event by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The BMA's secretary in Wales Dr Richard Lewis said: “This is the most important piece of legislation created in Wales since the laws of Hywel Dda. Patients across the country will now benefit directly or indirectly from this Bill.”

The Welsh Government has long said there is a desperate need to drive up transplantation rates as 226 people in Wales continue to wait for a transplant. They now hope it will increase donors by around a quarter.

Despite five years in the making, the issue was still hotly contested for five hours in the Senedd - with AMs from the Assembly's four parties mulling over more than 70 amendments.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said regulations would need to be drawn up on which organs would not feature on the list. He did confirm that tissues definitely exempt would be limbs as well as face transplants.

Roy J Thomas, chief executive of Kidney Wales Foundation, said: “Deemed consent has a positive and sizeable effect on organ donation rates of some 25% to 35% higher on average in presumed consent countries.

”One person dies every week in Wales waiting for an organ transplant”, he added. “Three people die a day in the UK.”

Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This is a special and historic moment for a part of the UK that has decided to stand up and make a life-saving change.

“The Welsh have become the standard bearers and now other UK governments must join them and introduce opt-out legislation of their own.

“The system, where everyone is considered a donor unless they say otherwise, will help increase the number of available organs and better reflect the wishes of the majority of the UK.”

However those views were not shared by campaign group Patient Concern.

Spokeswoman Joyce Robbins said: “This legislation will result in human bodies being treated like clapped-out cars. You strip them of parts for re-use, unless the owner prefers to scrap the whole vehicle.

“It's outrageous to pretend that people feel no differently about a human heart from a used car horn. The risks of turning off support for transplantation far outweigh the possibility of increased organ supply.”

Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Sport
Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker during Hansen's final broadcast
Sport
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?