Figures released today to mark National Transplant Week show family support for organ donation more than doubles when people know about their loved one’s wishes.
The figures, released by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) reveal that, across the UK, over half of all people questioned had not discussed their views on organ donation with their families. This year’s National Transplant Week theme, "Pass it On", highlights the importance of discussing organ donation with family and friends so they know what they would like to happen after their death.
Faced with having to make the decision themselves after the death of a loved one, and not knowing what they wanted, many families refuse consent to organ donation. This means more people die unnecessarily on transplant waiting lists.
The Welsh Government is currently consulting on the draft Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill which will introduce a soft opt-out system for consent to organ and tissue donation in Wales.
A soft opt-out system means that unless a person either registers a wish to be a donor or not to be a donor during their lifetime, their consent to organ donation will be deemed to have been given. However, under a soft opt-out, families will still be involved in discussions about organ donation, as they are now.
International evidence suggests in countries with opt-out systems, families are more likely to feel able to take part in the organ donation process because they are assured that, had their loved one objected to organ donation, they would have opted out.
Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Health and Social Services said:
"I very much support National Transplant Week’s ‘Pass it on’ message. While death is not an easy subject to discuss, telling loved ones your wishes regarding organ donation is extremely important.
"Very few of us will ever be in the position of being an organ donor, which is why we need to do everything we can to encourage people to think about and talk about their views.
"A really important part of introducing new legislation for Wales will be a comprehensive communications campaign, to ensure people are clear about their choices. Part of the campaign will prompt people to discuss the issue of organ donation with their friends and family."