This week is Organ Donation Week. The week runs from 5 September and aims to highlight the importance of organ donation, as well as celebrating organ donors who have saved lives.
Approximately three people who are in need of a transplant die every day and there are 6,500 people currently on the transplant waiting list.
From 1 December 2015, the law in Wales changed to bring in a soft ‘opt-out’ system for consent to organ donation, meaning that people living in Wales now have three choices:
- Those who want to be organ donors can either register to be one (opt-in) on the NHS Organ Donor Register or do nothing;
- If you do nothing, you will be regarded as having no objection to donating your organs. This is called ‘deemed consent’;
- Those who do not want to be organ donors can register not to be a donor (opt-out) on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
For those who choose to do nothing, if they are 18 or over, have lived in Wales for more than 12 months and die in Wales, they will be regarded as having consented to organ donation.
Health officials and ministers in Wales are encouraged by how the deemed consent system is working, and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has said the picture in Wales is promising. In June 2016, the Welsh government said the scheme had already saved dozens of lives after revealing that, of the 60 organs that were transplanted in the first six months, 32 came from people whose consent had been ‘deemed’.
This weekend, the Guardian reported new figures from NHSBT, which showed that in the financial year 2015-16 the family consent/authorisation rate increased in Wales from 49% to 59%. Across the UK the rise was smaller: 58% to 62%. It is hoped that by 2020, consent rates will have increased to 80%.
For more information on organ donation, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.