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One year on from the introduction of Wales’ landmark system of deemed consent for organ donation.

First published:
1 December 2016
Last updated:

On 1 December 2015, Wales became the first part of the UK to introduce a soft opt-out system. 

People aged 18 and over who have lived in Wales for more than 12 months and who die in Wales are now regarded as having consented to organ donation unless they have opted out. This is called deemed consent.

People who want to be organ donors can register a decision to opt in or do nothing, which will mean they have no objection to being an organ donor. Those people who do not want to be organ donor can opt out at any time. 

A year on, the latest figures show that 39 organs from patients whose consent was deemed have been transplanted into people who are in need of replacement organs.

In the two years prior to the introduction of the new system of deemed consent, the Welsh Government made significant efforts to inform the public of the exact nature of the upcoming changes in respect of transplantation activities. During this period the number of organs transplanted increased each year, from 120 between the 1 December 2013 and 31 October 2014, to 160 between 1 December 2015 and 2016.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: 

“No other country in the rest of the UK is doing what Wales is doing when it comes to organ donation. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved so far.

“Donating an organ is an act of great generosity and due to this progressive legislation policy, there are more organs available to those who are desperately in need of a transplant. 

“The people of Wales who donate organs are potentially giving people the gift of life. On the anniversary of the start of this landmark legislation I want to thank those who have donated, and want to urge people who’ve not discussed their organ donation wishes, to have that conversation with their loved ones.”

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said:

“In the last year alone we’ve seen a steady rise in the numbers of people living in Wales whose lives have been saved or improved by an organ transplant. This is good news.

“The latest figures for deemed consents in Wales are encouraging. We’re moving in the right direction, but I’m keen to see them increase in the future. 

“I am extremely proud that, thanks to this legislation from the Welsh Government, we lead the way as the first nation in the UK to move to a soft opt-out system of consent.”

“I fully expect that the new system we’ve put in place will create a step change in consent for organ donation in Wales. The benefits to those needing a transplant will be literally, life changing.”

Later today, the First Minister and Health Secretary will attend a special event to mark the anniversary of deemed consent for organ donation at the Transplant Unit at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

Maria Battle, Chair of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: 

"We are pleased to be able to play our part in this landmark change in the law.

"The Transplant Unit at the University Hospital of Wales plays a vital part in helping to save the lives of those requiring a transplant from across Wales.  

"The positive effects of the new opt out system and the publicity around it are already being seen, with more families making the very brave and courageous decision for the organs of their loved ones to help other families, ultimately giving the gift of life.  

"Evidence has shown that there is so much more awareness of organ donation in our communities and it has encouraged families to have those vital conversations with their families and loved ones about their wishes at the end of their life."