People living in Wales will soon be automatically considered as organ donors when they die unless they have registered against it, being the UK’s first opt-out system.
Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar, said “Welsh Conservatives are fully supportive of the cause of increasing organ donation and welcome the new campaign to encourage family and school discussion of the issues related to organ donation.
“Labour’s presumed consent proposal represents a significant and controversial departure from the current system and this issue must be taken forward sensitively and with respect to the deep-held views of interest and faith groups.
“Alternatives to legislation should be examined, such as offering people the chance to register as an organ donor when they register to vote, renew their passport or register with a GP.”
NHS blood and transplant media and PR officer, Sarah Whyte, added “We welcome any debate which raises awareness of organ donation.
“The UK organ donation organisation, NHS Blood and Transplant, will work within whatever legislative framework is introduced in any of the four health administrations in the UK.”
But the Bill already raises many ethical concerns in Wales.
Questions such as “Will doctors still fight to save me?”, “Will my body be severely damaged?”, or “When are people considered to be brain dead?” still need to be answered.
The proposed legislation is also contested by religious communities, especially the Jewish and Muslim communities in Wales.
Sagima Engum from the Islamic Social Services Association of Wales said “We put a petition together in every mosque in Wales to get as many signatures against the law as we could. That’s all we could do.
“The Muslim community is shocked that the Bill will be passed, lots of people don’t even know about this. It needs a lot more publicity.”
Senior Research Fellow at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, the first Christian bioethics institute in Britain, emphasizes that “Organ donation is a profoundly Christian positive act. However, if organs may be taken without consent, this is no longer donation.”
Organ donation also poses the problem of the black market and trafficking.
Even though India, Moldova and China have recently made organ trafficking illegal, the organ black market is still thriving today.
Wales will follow the steps of France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Brazil, which have set up the same opt-out policy, unless people have registered against organ donations.
But Wales will be the first country in the UK to adopt the opt-out system, a considerable step in improving organ donation.
The Bill should increase organ donations by nearly a quarter and potentially provide for the 237 Welsh people waiting for organ transplants.
The Bill will become a law by the summer and could come into force by 2015.
Hospitals and politicians warn that the best thing to do is still to tell your relatives whether you are an organ donor or not.