About the campaign

Kidney Wales has been campaigning for a change in culture and law on organ donation for many years.  Roy J Thomas has maintained that “we in Wales hope that the UK’s first soft opt-out system for organ and tissue donation will be in place in four years time. Kidney Wales has been campaigning for  years for this change. It is not only about a change in law, it has also been a step change in culture on organ donation.” In the UK, three people die every day while on the waiting list because a suitable donor cannot be found.  

There has been a great reluctance to change the existing mode of seeking donation in the UK. Currently, people have to opt in to join the UK organ donor register if they want to donate their organs and tissues after death. This system simply is not working. Despite years of campaigning to raise awareness, the percentage of the UK population on the Organ Donor Register remains low at around 30%.

A soft Opt Out system means that unless an individual makes an objection, their organs and tissues will be available for donation after their death.  After death relatives would also be involved in the decision making process around the donation of their loved one’s organs. Unfortunately a great deal of scaremongering materialises. This is evident from comment pages on news sites, blogs or indeed tweets. The new system is often misrepresented or often misquoted. Practical issues of the new system are misunderstood. For example on the usually reliable BBC Thought For The Day in November 2011, when the issue of Alder Hey was raised but not the solution of long ago which was the introduction of the safeguards of the Human Tissue Act. Prominent public figures such as the Archbishop of Wales have also entered the debate against the change. Kidney Wales  has seen serious opposition and tackled many misinformed claims but has received Government and Cross Party political support and leading figures such as Sir Richard Branson.

In Wales, around 500 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant and 10,000 in the UK as a whole. Many of us see this as a slot figure as it has maintained at this rate for some years. It is better to have a kidney prior to dialysis and prior to being put on an indefinite waiting list.

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.

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