WALES will become the first country in the UK to introduce an
opt-out organ-donation system, the Welsh Assembly has decided.
The change to "presumed consent" would allow organs and tissues
to be removed, even if the deceased had never signed up to being a
donor while alive.
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, is among the critics
of the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill. Becoming a donor was a
"great act of love", he said. Presumed consent would change it into
a "medical use of a body".
Representatives of the Muslim Council of Wales and the South
Wales Jewish Representative Council also oppose the Bill.
In a joint statement on Monday, senior health professionals and
other religious leaders called for a "soft opt-out scheme", to give
deceased patients' families a say. They urged Assembly members to
amend the Bill.
The signatories, who include Dr Morgan and the Roman Catholic
Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Revd George Stack, said: "The law
must be amended in this way if it is not to be inhuman, unfeeling
before the suffering of relatives, and a danger to the public trust
and support which are necessary for the practice of organ donation
to flourish. Without this there is a real danger that the law could
The change was carried, however, after a vote late on Tuesday
night. Forty-three of the 60 Assembly members backed the Bill,
eight voted against, and there were two abstentions.
The Welsh Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, spoke of "an historic
day for Wales". "Wales is a progressive nation, and this is a
progressive policy for that progressive nation," he said.
The Welsh government hopes that the legislation will lead to a
rise of about one quarter in the number of donors. The new law will
come into force by 2015. It will apply to over-18s who die in Wales
if they have lived there for more than 12 months.
The public-affairs officer for the Christian charity CARE, Dan
Boucher, said after the vote: "If the Bill does not respect either
the consent of the deceased or of their family, there is a real
risk of this legislation backfiring, as people feel pressurised by
the state and withdraw from donation. This would be a tragedy and
needlessly put lives at risk."
BLOOD and organ donation is an act of Christian
generosity, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said, as he
urged people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation
He was photographed (above) donating
blood at Cardiff City Stadium.
The Church in Wales is the latest signatory of the Flesh
and Blood campaign, run by the NHS and church denominations and
charities, including the Salvation Army, Methodists, Baptists, and
the United Reformed Church, as well as the Church of
Dr Morgan said: "As Christians we believe that offering
our organs and our blood to save lives is love in action and part
of what it means to love our neighbours. So donating our organs as
a gift goes to the heart of what it is to be a disciple of Jesus.
That is why I carry a donor card, and strongly urge as many people
as possible to register online."
Four hundred units of blood are needed in Wales each day
to meet hospital demand, and approximately 12,000 extra blood
donors are needed each year to maintain consistency.
The director of the Welsh Blood Service, Dr Geoff Poole,
said: "All major faith groups support donation in the spirit of
giving, and we're excited to explore this in more detail by working
with the Christian Church. By raising awareness amongst its members
and community about the daily need for blood transfusions and organ
transplants across the NHS, we hope to banish myths, educate
people, and encourage blood and organ donation. Donating blood is a
unique gift, and one that can truly save lives."