UPDATE: 9.52pm

CONSENT for organ donation in Wales is set to be assumed after a move to allow 'deemed' consent for organ donation.

After more than five hours' debate a majority voted to approve the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill tonight.

A TRAILBLAZING transformation of organ donation could be two significant steps closer by the end of today, as the Assembly votes on the final wording of the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill.


If AMs approve the Bill, then after it receives Royal Assent later in the summer, a new opt-out organ donation system for Wales – the first in the UK– will be just two years away.

The Bill will completely change the way organ and tissue donation works in Wales.

It means that unless a person when they were alive either registered a wish to be a donor, or not to be a donor, they will be deemed to have given their consent for donation.

The idea of an opt-out system has attracted much support. But significant concerns have also been raised about how it will work, and what role a deceased person’s family will have in the decision- making process.

Today’s vote in the Senedd is on stages three and four of the Bill, focusing on its final wording and its acceptance or rejection.

Dozens of amendments to the existing draft Bill will be debated and voted upon, many based on feedback from scrutiny of that draft.

Key issues include the aforementioned issue of family input on decisions about whether or not a loved one’s organs can be donated.

Where deemed consent applies under the new system, relatives or friends of long standing will be able to object based on what they know of the dead person’s wishes, and consent will never be deemed in the absence of family members.

This has, and continues to be, an issue of profound concern and sensitivity, perhaps the biggest key to the success or otherwise of the new system in achieving its primary aim of increasing the availability of organs for transplant.

Three people a day in the UK die waiting for an organ transplant – one person a week in Wales.

Supporters of an opt-out system argue it is best way to bring about an increase in available organs. Opponents argue that it represents an unwelcome shift in the relationship between the state and individuals, or it will do little to help solve the organs shortfall. Others object on religious grounds.

A test case for other countries

GWENT doctor Professor John Saunders, chairman of the ethics committee of the Royal College of Physicians, calls the Bill “landmark legislation.”

Professor Saunders, who works at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, said it will require changes to the way people think about organ donation and the way transplantation services are organised.

“I believe a key priority for the Welsh Government must be to consider how we monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of this legislation,” he said.

“Wales is leading the way with this Bill, and we will be seen as the test case for other countries.

“If this Bill is to make a real difference to people’s lives, we must do all we can do to ensure we measure the benefits properly.” Professor Saunders has previously warned that the proposed system requires careful and sensitive implementation, as a disputed or mistaken case of donation could have significant negative consequences.

Kidney Wales Foundation, which has campaigned for five years for a new donation system welcomes the Bill and says similar systems have had “sizeable” effects on organ donation in other countries.

Religious leaders in Wales want the Assembly to protect the wishes of bereaved families by adopting a ‘soft’ opt-out system, though many are opposed to the Bill. A joint statement issued by religious leaders calls the idea of deemed consent “a misleading fiction.”