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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Presumed consent: the debate

Fervent debate has followed the announcement by Health Minister Edwina Hart last Friday that Wales could move to a system of presumed consent for organ donation.

Jonathan Morgan AM has voiced his concern over the announcement. This is what I said in response:

“We recognise that the introduction of an opt-out system would be a controversial decision, and as such those who do not want to donate their organs will sign up to opt out. A law on presumed consent would, at a single stroke, save lives whilst still giving the individual the right to have a choice.

“Given the very high level of support for organ donation expressed in repeated surveys 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.
“Presuming consent rather than presuming objection is more likely to achieve the aim of respecting the wishes of the deceased person.

“We believe that with further debate and information about the way such a system would operate, there will be widespread public and professional support for such a change.

“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.

“We must recognise that the current system is unable to meet the increasing demands placed upon it. Steps must be taken to increase the availability of organs for transplantation.

“Let’s show that we still care deeply about the health of our nation and that we are willing to lead with bold initiatives whilst other countries dither and waver.”

I’m looking forward to hearing Jonathan’s response.

We will continue our work with the Welsh Assembly Government and other partners over the next few months to raise public awareness of the urgent need for change and the rationale behind the presumed consent option. You can expect to hear a lot more from us on this important issue.

What are your views on the announcement?

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