If you live in Wales, today is the last day of opt-in organ donation. From tomorrow, December 1st 2015, the presumption will be in favour of organ donation rather than against it. In other words, instead of having to opt in to become an organ donor, from tomorrow you will have to opt out.
Lots of countries use the opt out system, including Spain, Austria and Belgium, so it's not exactly groundbreaking. It is new to the UK though and it's exciting news for the nearly 400 people waiting for organ transplants in Wales. Across the UK there are over 7,000 people on the waiting list, and about 1,200 die each year because of the shortage of suitable organs.
The new system is aimed at improving that figure by increasing the number of potential donors. Because, while polls suggest 90% of the Welsh population supports organ donation, only around 30% are actually signed up as a donor. It's effort and, as we all know, humans prefer procrastination.
|From a post with more in-depth info on UK organ donation.|
Of course, when the idea first hit the public domain there were concerns of potential abuse. To allay those fears the new law will only apply to individuals over the age of 18 who die in Wales after being resident here for at least a year. Relatives will still have the right to refuse consent, just as they do under the current opt-in system.
I understand why some people personally don't want to donate their organs - there are religious reasons, personal reasons, all kinds of reasons. But, if you feel that strongly against it, all you need to do is register HERE.
If the new system saves just one extra life then, as far as I'm concerned, it will be well worth it.
Update 2018: The new system was slow to deliver any notable results; numbers of deceased organ donors actually fell in 2016. It's difficult to say to what extent that is the law or a drop in eligible donors. The stats show us categorically that familial consent is up from 44.4% in 2014 to 64.5% in 2017, but there were still 21 cases where the family overrode presumed consent (and in some cases actual stated consent of the deceased) of eligible donors in 2016/17.
A new public information campaign is underway in response to this because support for the law is generally high. Consent rates in Wales are now at 72%, with approximately 24.3 donors per million population. Hopefully this will begin to translate to noticeably increased transplant rates.