About Opt Out

Opt for Life Cymru, a group led by Kidney Wales along with other charities and organisations all campaigning for a change in the organ donation system. 

On November 8th 2011, the Welsh Government published a White Paper setting out a legislative timetable to implement changes to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplantation through a soft Opt Out system. The White Paper set out how the system would work and the Welsh Government called on the Welsh public to share their views during a period of public consultation which ran from November 2011 to January 31st 2012. People were able to respond to the proposals by answering a questionnaire, which could be sent to the Government by post or filled in online or by writing a letter or email with their response.

The Welsh Government received a record number of responses to the consultation with 1,234 people expressing their opinions on the proposed change in legislation. Although the aim of the White Paper was to consult on the practical issues surrounding the implementation of Opt Out and did not specifically ask respondents whether they agreed with it or not, 91% (1,124) of the responses received did indicate an overall view, with 52% (642) of respondents supporting the proposals.

This support was also echoed in a 2012 BBC Wales St David’s Day Poll which showed 63% of the Welsh public in favour of a move to Opt Out.  

A majority of the public believe in organ donation even if they have not joined the NHS organ donor register.

According to a 2008 report by the Organ Donation Taskforce Report, 65 per cent of the UK population say they are prepared to donate an organ after their death and 90 per cent support organ donation.

A consultation by the Welsh Government in 2009 also showed 81 per cent of respondents were in favour of an opt-out system.  A You Gov Poll taken in 2009 showed 71% in favour. The matter has been debated and campaigned for 4 years in Wales and the support for change is clearly demonstrated through these statistics.

According to an analysis which compared 22 countries over 10 years, those countries with an opt-out system have roughly 25-30 per cent higher donation rates than countries which have ‘informed consent’ schemes. Belgium introduced soft opt out in 1986 and successfully saw donor rates doubling within three years.

The Next Steps

In June 2012 a bill was  introduced in the National Assembly for Wales. This will be followed by a consultation period. Once passed, it is hoped that an opt-out system will become operational in 2015.

Wales has a history of innovative thinking in increasing organ donation. In the 1980’s, Kidney Wales ensured a computer register was in place when working with Manchester University to establish Lifeline Wales which led to cards being sent out with driving licenses through the DVLA in Swansea. We pray for those who wait that this will be a further step in the right direction to a new life.

During a visit to the Kidney Wales Children’s Centre before Christmas, the First Minister, the Rt Hon. Carwyn Jones AM, met children and their families and staff before touring the unit. He also discussed his hopes for a change in legislation on organ donation.

The First Minister said: “It is great to come here and see the excellent work being carried out by both Kidney Wales and the NHS who provide superb support to children and their families going through such a difficult time. We have come a long way with organ donation. The number of people in Wales currently signed up to the donor register is 31 per cent.

“However, we need to go further and the current shortage of donors continues to cause otherwise preventable death and suffering. We want to make more organs available for donation and I would encourage everyone to consider signing up to the existing organ donation register.  By increasing the number of people on the register we could improve the lives of many people.

“Our proposals to introduce a soft opt-out system of organ and tissue donation will mean people are more likely to make decisions about donation during their lifetime and to have discussed their wishes with their family.  This is something I would encourage everyone to do this Christmas. 

“Repeated surveys have shown that the overwhelming majority of people in Wales believe in organ donation, but only one in three people in Wales have joined the register. 

“A soft opt-out system will not change the medical treatment patients are given, up to and including the time of death but it will increase the number of organs and tissues available.”

Dai Williams, Director, Diabetes UK Cymru said:
“One complication of diabetes can be kidney failure, and pancreas transplants for people with diabetes are becoming increasingly common. We support a change to Opt Out and welcome any move than increases the number of organsavailable for donation in Wales.”

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