From 1 December, Wales will be the first country in the United Kingdom to introduce a major change in the conditions governing organ donation. Any person aged 18 or over, who has lived in Wales for more than one year and who dies there will be considered a potential donor unless he/she previously refused to participate in organ donation.
Until now, Wales, like England, Scotland and Northern Ireland operated a system whereby individuals could voluntarily sign the organ donor register. However, this has not proved to be very effective because, despite the potential donor’s signature, approval from the deceased’s family was still required. John Chisholm, Chairman of the British Medical Association Ethics Committee argues that this new system will ensure that the individual’s wishes are respected to greater extent because, at the moment, although 90% of the population has been persuaded that organ donation is a good thing, only 30% have joined the donor register.
Mark Drakeford, Welsh Assembly Health Minister explained more about the new system, “in choosing to do nothing, you are choosing to give your consent [to organ donation]”.
This new law also allows families to refuse in some cases. Families can oppose organ donation if they can prove that the potential donor would not have agreed to donate his/her organs although this was not reported as such.