Welsh Govt consults on presumed organ donation

The Welsh Assembly Government wants to change the law so that doctors can take organs from dead people who did not give explicit consent before they died.

Currently those who wish to donate their organs opt in by signing an organ donor register.

But the Welsh Government wants to switch to a system of presumed consent, and has now launched a consultation on the controversial proposal.


The Government is consulting on a ‘soft’ system, which means relatives’ views would be sought before any organs were taken.

Under the plans families could not veto organs being used, but the Welsh Health Minister told the BBC she “could not see a situation where clinicians take the organs of a donor without the permission of families”.

Critics have warned that such a system could lead to people’s organs being seen as an asset of the state.

Some doctors are concerned that too many patients are being prematurely declared ‘dead’ so that their organs can be harvested while still fresh.


In September Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, warned that presumed consent would bring “a subtle change of emphasis in the relationship between the individual and the state”.

He explained: “That is, unless we have opted out, our organs belong to the state and the state has the right to do with them as it wishes.”

And the Archbishop continued: “The implication, by default, is that the state can decide on our behalf. I think that compromises individual rights and freedoms and poses the moral question as to whether the state can make such decisions.”


A bill on the issue is set to be introduced in 2012 and a soft opt-out system could come into effect in 2015.

If the system goes ahead it would be the first of its kind in the UK.

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