Wales’ landmark system for organ donation has saved dozens of lives during the first six months since implementation, Vaughan Gething will tell Assembly Members later today.
The system – known as soft opt out or deemed consent – allows people who want to be an organ donor to either register a decision to opt in or do nothing. For those who choose to do nothing, if they are 18 or over, have lived in Wales for more than 12 months and also die in Wales, they will be regarded as having consented to organ donation.
Figures show that of the 31 deceased people who donated their organs between 1st December 2015 and 31st May 2016, 10 had their consent deemed because they had not registered a decision to either opt in or opt out of becoming an organ donor.
In total, 60 organs were transplanted during this period, 32 of which were from people whose consent had been deemed.
In comparison to the figures for organ donation before the change in the law, these numbers are very encouraging: 23 people donated their organs in the same period in 2014-15 and 21 in the same period in 2013-2014.
The people of Wales have embraced this ground-breaking legislation, with the latest survey in February 2016 showing that 74% of the Welsh public were aware of the changes to the system.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, Vaughan Gething AM, will say in the Senedd later today:
“The path to organ donation is a complex one, but consent is the stage at which most donations are lost. I am extremely proud that Wales now leads the way by being the first nation in the UK to move to a soft opt-out system of consent. I fully expect that the new system will create a step change in consent for organ donation in Wales. The early indications are that this certainly is the case.
“This law was introduced to address the chronic shortage of organs for transplant which we face in Wales. I am sure we have all heard heart breaking stories about those on organ waiting lists.
“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the people of Wales for not only embracing this ground breaking legislation, but also for taking the time to consider, discuss and register their decision about organ donation.”
The Cabinet Secretary’s statement comes ahead of a new campaign due to begin in the summer aimed at getting more young people to talk about their organ donation decision with their loved ones and to remind people of their options under the new system.