Welsh vote on 'presumed consent' organ donation

Wales will move a step closer to becoming the first country in the United Kingdom with an organ and tissue donation scheme based on presumed consent if assembly members vote in favour of a bill on Tuesday.

The opt-in system currently in place across the UK relies on people signing up to a voluntary scheme and carrying a donor card.

But the Welsh government wants to introduce a system in which individuals will be presumed to have consented after death unless they specifically object during their lifetime.

The Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill aims to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplant by introducing the so-called "soft opt-out" system.

Donation rates could be set to increase by between 25 and 30 per cent under such a system.

The new scheme offers three options: a person will be able to register to explicitly opt in to the new organ donation scheme or opt out of it. Where a person fails to express a preference he or she will be deemed to have given consent by taking no action.

Relatives will still be able to object to their family member's organs being donated if the new system is passed.

Members of the Welsh Assembly will vote in Cardiff on Tuesday on the final wording of the bill which would then be on course to come into force by 2015.

Campaign charity the Kidney Wales Foundation (KWF) has hailed the new scheme saying it will increase the number of vital transplant donors.

"The new Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill is a new progressive law," said Roy Thomas, chief executive of the KWF.

"This consent law has had a positive and sizeable effect on organ donation rates of some 25 percent to 35 percent higher on average in deemed consent countries," he said.

"Currently only around a third of the Welsh population is on the organ donor register and this is around the same for the UK as a whole."