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Date announced for soft opt-out organ donor legislation

Wales will become the first UK nation to introduce a 'soft' opt-out system of organ donation Credit: Clive Gee/PA Wire

The Welsh Government will today announce when legislation on a 'soft' opt-out system for organ donation will come into effect here.

It means everyone will be presumed a potential organ donor - unless they have specifically stated that they wish not to be.

The Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill hasn't been welcomed by everyone, but ministers hope it will increase the number of organs available for transplants.

The Bill was passed by the National Assembly on July 2, with 43 AMs voting for, eight against and two abstaining.

It makes Wales the first UK nation to introduce such a system.

The Bill will also receive Royal Assent during a special ceremony today.


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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