The draft Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill paves the way for a soft opt-out system of organ and tissue donation in Wales, on which the Welsh Government has already consulted.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths launched the draft Bill for consultation at Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff, where she met two athletes who have received donor organs and have competed in the World Transplant Games.
Under the new system, which it is envisaged will be implemented in 2015, people will be given the opportunity to either formally make a decision to be a donor (opt in) or not to be a donor (opt out), by placing their name on a register.
People over the age of 18 who choose to do neither, will be deemed to have given their consent and made a positive decision to donate their organs and tissues for transplantation.
It is essential to be clear about the role of family members in a soft opt-out system. In cases where a person has neither opted in nor opted out, family members are not required to give their consent to the donation itself, because the deceased’s consent will have been deemed to have been given already. However, it is important to stress the issue of donation will be approached sensitively and as now, families will still be involved in the process, which cannot go ahead without their assistance.
Deemed consent will not apply to everyone - there will be safeguards for children, people who lack capacity and people who do not live in Wales. .
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said:
"We are seeking a change in the law to increase the number of organ and tissue donors and to save lives.
"One donor can improve or save the lives of up to nine other people by donating their organs and many more through the donation of their tissues.
"Wales has seen a 49% increase in donation rates since 2008, which is a huge achievement to be proud of. However, there is still a shortage of organs for transplant. In 2011/12, sadly, 37 people in Wales died while waiting for an organ.
"I believe the time has come to introduce a change in the law, together with an extensive communication and education programme encouraging people to make a decision and to ensure their families know their wishes."
Stuart Davies, 45, from Bancffosfelen, Carmarthenshire, received his first donor kidney in 1992 and underwent a second transplant in 2003. He has represented Great Britain in two World Transplant Games, and Cardiff in nine British Transplant Games, bringing home a total of 43 medals. He also won the Victor Laudorum for the best male adult athlete for three consecutive years.
"I am in favour of the proposed legislation from the Welsh Government, as I feel it will make more organs available for transplantation. Having spent almost a quarter of my life on dialysis, which is an aggressive treatment, I know only too well the desperate, bleak and uncertain feeling of waiting for an organ. I also saw several of my fellow dialysis patients die waiting for a transplant.
"Having a transplant has given me my life back and enabled me to be a proper husband to my wife, and father to our daughters. In my opinion, if you are willing to accept an organ should you need one then, in turn, you should also be willing to donate in the event of your death."
Tracy Baker, 34, from Neath, has won more than 30 medals in the British Transplant Games and two golds in the World Games. Tracy received her first transplant at the age of 11, and a second in October 2007.
"Since my transplant, I have been running and going to the gym regularly. Before my transplant I didn’t have the energy required for either. Since then, I’ve gone from strength to strength and competing in athletics is a major part of my life now.
"I fully support a soft opt-out system as having a transplant changed my life dramatically. I am able to lead a ‘normal’ life, I work and train hard and can say without a transplant I do not know what my life would be like."
Having taken into account the points raised during a widespread public consultation on proposals for legislation, the draft Bill has been published for consultation, which will close on 10 September 2012. There will be a number of stakeholder events held across Wales during the consultation period.