Wales passes opt-out system for organ donation

Wales has become the first country in the UK to introduce an opt-out organ donation system.

On Tuesday July 2nd, and after five hours of debate, the National Assembly for Wales passed the Human Transplantation Wales Bill, with the new law expected to go fully into effect in 2015.

With 43 votes to eight, with two abstentions, the bill changed the existing system, and introduced the opt-out system for organ donation.

Under the new system, everyone will be considered a willing donor when they die, unless they have stated otherwise.

Previously to donate organs, people voluntarily signed with the NHS Organ Donor Register (opt-in), now people will have to register to say they do not wantto be a donor (opt-out).

Where a person should have failed to express his or hers preference, he or she will be deemed to have given consent by taking no action, while relatives will still be able to objectto their family member's organs being donated.

The new bill will apply to people aged 18 and over, and if they have lived in Wales for more than 12 months.

The aim of the Bill is to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplant, and the new law is predicted to increase organ availability by 25 per centunder the new system, and donors will also be able to record their wishes whether to donate certain organs, but not others.

The organs made available under the scheme, could also be used anywhere in the UK.

The Welsh Government will be launching a two-year £8 million campaign on the new system, so people will be fully informed about which choice to make.

The Kidney Wales Foundation welcomed the vote, saying it "gives new hope for all those waiting for a transplant in Wales and will gladden the hearts of those in the UK who see this as a sign that other parts of the UK may follow this vote".

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