Wales is considering soft opt-out policy for organ donation
Wales is considering soft opt-out policy for organ donation

Wales may be the first country in the UK to adopt an opt-out organ donation policy.

The Welsh Assembly is considering consultation on the "soft opt-out" system, which means that a person's organs are considered open for use for donation unless they indicate that they object.

A soft opt-out policy allows a person's family to be involved in the decision in the event of a sudden death.

The adoption of an opt-out policy has recently been suggested by the British Medical Association, which has called for a public debate on donation across the UK.

"This is a very sensitive issue and I know people have strong views on what happens to them and to their loved ones after they die," said health minister Lesley Griffiths.

"Respect and dignity for people in life and death is something to which we are all deeply committed and I can assure everyone nothing in our proposals will alter the way people are cared for."

She went on to claim that concerns over the government appearing to take ownership of people's bodies and harvest them for a stockpile of organs are "completely wrong".

"Absolutely none of these things are true," she said. "In fact, by introducing an opt-out register, we will be increasing an individual's ability to make their wishes clear."

The consultation process closed on 31 January, with the results due to be published at the end of February. Griffiths made it clear that even if a bill for an opt-out system was put before the assembly before the end of the year, no changes would be introduced before 2015.

At the end of March 2011, there were 7,800 people on the UK's active waiting list for a transplant, with nearly 3,000 more temporarily suspended from the list because they were currently unfit for a transplant.