Last December, the Welsh Government switched from an “opt in” to an “opt out” approach to organ donation - Change in law to increase number of organ donations in Wales.
Now 6 months in to the new system, 60 organs have been transplanted to patients waiting for lifesaving operations. Nearly half of these organs came from people whose consent had been deemed meaning that they had not explicitly confirmed whether or not they wanted to become an organ donor after death.
The Welsh Government launched the scheme in a mission to increase the number of organ donations which ultimately save lives. This appears to have been successful with statistics showing an increase in the number of donations from the same 6 month period of previous years.
Before the law was changed, people had to specifically state that they wanted their organs to be donated to others after their death. This is currently the system in the rest of the UK. Now, unless the family of the deceased confirms that their loved one objected but did not opt out, their organs may be used in a transplant. Residents of Wales can still “opt in” and their wishes will not be overridden by those of their families after their death.
Some critics have stated that the system is difficult to understand although the Welsh Government will be launching a campaign this summer to encourage young people to talk about donation and to remind people of their options.
A large number of people sadly pass away every year whilst on waiting lists for organ donations and health ministers from the rest of the UK will certainly be keeping a close watch on the success of the Welsh system.