BMA Cymru Wales estimates around 30 people have died in Wales in the last year, waiting for a transplant on the organ donor register. The leading doctors' union is now calling for action to be taken by the Welsh Assembly Government with regard to possible changes to the organ donation system.
It's also a year since the Assembly's Health Committee rejected any ideas to change the organ donation system in Wales.
AdvertisementThis led to the Welsh Assembly Government's wider consultation on the matter, which has just closed.
BMA Cymru Wales submitted a response to this consultation, reiterating calls for a "soft" system of presumed consent to be introduced and to do so sooner rather than later, before more lives are lost.
There are several reasons why the BMA believes that such a system would produce a far higher potential donor rate than at present and in turn, save more lives.
Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh Secretary of the BMA says: "The main difficulty with the current system is that where, as in the majority of cases, relatives do not know what their loved ones wishes are, they frequently, and understandably, opt for the default position, which is not to donate. This would be addressed by the introduction of an opt-out system where the default position would change in favour of donation. We recognise this is a subject many people hold strong views about and as such, those who do not want to donate their organs will sign up to opt out.
"The number of people on the organ donor register has doubled since 2001, from 8 million to more than 16 million. But the gap between the number of organs available and those needed continues to grow, with around 1,000 people dying each year in the UK waiting for an organ.
"Presuming consent rather than presuming objection is also more likely to achieve the aim of respecting the wishes of the deceased person. Given the very high level of support for organ donation expressed in repeated surveys (up to 90%) it is reasonable to presume that those who die without making their views known are in the majority who want to donate, rather than the minority who do not. With such a shift towards making donation the default position this reflects a positive view of donation, demonstrating the very strong support for it within society. Therefore, over time donation would come to be seen as the norm, rather than the exception.
"Added to this is the fact that there is significant and growing public and professional support for such a shift. Recent public opinion polls show around 60-70% support for a shift to an opt-out system of consent for organ donation. This is consistent with the views found in the Assembly's own public engagement exercise.
"The time really has come, before more people die waiting in vain, the Welsh Assembly Government needs to stop procrastinating and seek an LCO (Legislative Competence Order) from Westminster to bring in a soft system of presumed consent."
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