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Organ Donation: Belgium shows us that problems won't go away

Watch my two reports from Belgium:

So Wales finally has a system of presumed consent for organ donation. It's been years in the making but at midnight 1st December 2015 we joined other European countries with the same law.

Belgium has had it since 1986 and I've been there to see what lessons Wales can learn.

Clearly the change has made a difference. The number of kidney's available for transplant went up 86% in one year and everyone in Belgium is conformable talking about it. Welsh ministers hope the transplant rate will rise between 25-30%.

"Dying without donation, is dying without the benefit of transplantation for other people."

– Dr Bart Nonneman

It's almost 30 years since Belgium changed the law but the government isn't complacent. The country is constant reminded of the system. Public information adverts, books for children and posters. Wales will have to do the same.

Comic book for children Credit: ITV news

But if you think presumed consent will solve all problems then think again. As one doctor told me:

"We do have a waiting list and we still have patients dying on the waiting list. There will never be enough organs to transplant for everybody."

– Prof Xavier Rogiers, University Hospital of Ghent

The new Welsh system isn't a magic bullet. Waiting lists will still exist and people will still die. There is no such thing as a perfect system but for its supporters, presumed consent is as close as it gets.

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