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Written Statement - The introduction of deemed consent for organ donation in Wales

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This law came into effect on 1 December 2015. The Act introduced a soft opt-out system for consent to deceased organ and tissue donation in Wales.
The survey is designed to be representative of the population resident in Wales aged 16 years and over.
Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales

Today, Wales becomes the first nation in the UK to introduce an opt out or deemed consent system for deceased organ donation. People aged 18 and over who have lived in Wales for more than 12 months and who die in Wales will be regarded as being willing to donate their organs unless expressly said they do not want to.

In line with many other countries in Europe with similar systems, we introduced this new law in order to address the chronic shortage of organs for transplant which we face in Wales. Based on the international evidence, we anticipate the new system will increase donation by around 25%. This could allow 15 more people to donate their organs to someone in need. That increase could mean around 45 more lives saved or transformed each year.

This ground breaking piece of legislation would not have been possible without the hard work and support of a large number of people across Wales and beyond. I would like to formally thank NHS Blood and Transplant, the Human Tissue Authority and all the health professionals who were involved in the development and implementation of the Act, the redevelopment of the Organ Donor Register, the Code of Practice and training materials.  The support of the Governments of the other UK countries has also been appreciated.  

I would like to offer special thanks to the numerous stakeholder organisations for their unstinting support as well as all the patients and families who helped with our public information campaign by generously sharing their very moving experiences.

I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Members of this Assembly during scrutiny of the Bill and their subsequent support. I am proud of the straight forward and robust system we have developed. The scrutiny provided both in committee and plenary was essential in the development of this high quality piece of legislation. I would like to place on record my thanks to the Minister for Health and Social Services, and his predecessors, for their diligence and stewardship of this key piece of Welsh legislation.

The Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 shows law making in Wales at its best and proves the people of Wales were right to entrust this chamber with law making powers.

Private member bills to introduce similar systems are currently being considered in both the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly.

Over the last two years, we have undertaken the largest and most wide ranging health public information campaign in the history of devolution in Wales explaining these changes. This morning we laid the second annual report before the Assembly outlining all the communications activity we have undertaken this year. 

To help inform the campaign, we have commissioned research around awareness and public attitudes of the change. These have been shown to be increasingly and strongly supportive quarter on quarter. The research has also been used to target communications activities throughout the two year period.  We have also published the most recent findings from these surveys.

It is a landmark day for Wales, we are leading the rest of the UK, reinforcing our reputation as a nation known for altruism, generosity and thought for others.