Welsh assembly to vote on presumed organ donation

Tue, 2 Jul 2013

A controversial Bill to bring in presumed consent for organ donation is being voted on by the Welsh Assembly later today.

The legislation would mean patients are considered as willing to have their organs harvested when they die, unless they ‘opt-out’.

But there has been widespread concern about the Bill.

Altruistic

Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, told the Guardian newspaper that this new system would mean organ donation is no longer altruistic.

He said: “Donation ought to be a gift of love, of generosity. If organs can be taken unless someone has explicitly registered an objection, that’s not an expression of love. It’s more a medical use of a body.”

He also highlighted the amount of confusion surrounding the Bill, and warned that most people do not “realise what the government is doing”.

Evidence

The Health and Social Care committee, which examined the proposals, heard evidence from church representatives, patient groups and medical ethicists.

Joyce Robins of Patient Concern, which speaks on behalf of health service users, called the proposed Bill “horrible”.

She said: “My problem with this bill is that it’s based on a falsehood”.

Pretend

She added: “You would be pretending that you have agreement when you have no such thing.”

Medical ethicist Professor John Saunders told the committee that, although he was broadly supportive of the measure, “the concept of presumed consent is nonsensical” and should be called deemed consent.

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh health minister, said the opt-out system could increase the amount of organ donation and may have a “domino effect” in other parts of the UK.

Westminster

But the Westminster Department of Health is not in favour of introducing such a system.

A spokesman said: “The independent Organ Donation Taskforce examined the case for moving to an opt-out system in 2008.

“They recommended against it, concluding that whilst such a system might have the potential to deliver benefits, it would present significant difficulties.”

Consideration

The legislation has been amended to take into consideration the wishes of relatives – but they will not have a veto.

If the Bill is passed, the system is due to be introduced in 2015.

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