AMs pass organ donation bill

Welsh Assembly members have passed a law governing organ donation. IIt means Wales is now the only part of the UK where doctors will presume that consent has been given to donate organs after death.

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Passing of bill is 'historic day'


Quick guide to new law on organ donation in Wales

Later today Assembly Members will vote on whether to change the law on organ donation. Credit: PA

A radical shake-up of the law on organ donations is to be voted on today by Welsh Assembly politicians.

If they back the bill, Wales will become the first country in the UK to have an "opt-out" system. This would mean that in the event of death, a person's organs could be used without giving consent.

Ministers in Cardiff Bay say there is a desperate need to drive up transplantation rates - with 226 people in Wales waiting for a transplant - and they hope the new system will drive up rates by around a quarter.

If passed the presumed consent system could come into force by 2015.

The Welsh Government says it would have to spend at least £8m on publicising the changes.

It would apply to over-18s who die in Wales if they have lived in Wales for more than 12 months.

Organs available would be the same as the "opt-in" method - including kidneys, heart, liver, lungs and pancreas .

Organs would not only go to donor patients in Wales. They could go anywhere in the UK.

The health minister says organs would not be taken unless a family member is present.

Religious leaders describe it as a "conscription" system which could distress bereaved families.

Some critics say evidence from other countries with the system shows it has not produced any real changes.

The matter will be debated in the Assembly at around 4pm. It is scheduled to last around two hours before a vote is taken.

Click here for the government's Human Transplantation Bill for Wales.

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Welsh health minister: Majority of people wish to donate

Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford has argued that a new scheme that assumes consent for organ donation will increase the number of organs available for transplant.

He highlighted the fact that surveys have shown that a majority of Welsh people wish to be a donor.

Deemed consent will bring about a cultural shift in the way donation proceeds in Wales.

It will alter the nature of some of the most difficult conversations that any family might face, and it will help to ensure that the wishes of that substantial majority of Welsh citizens who say, in survey after survey, that they would wish to be a donor, are put into practice in those very rare and special circumstances when donation is possible.

– Mark Drakeford, health minister for wales
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