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Organ donation in Wales

The Human Transplantation Wales Bill was passed by the National Assembly for Wales on 2 July 2013 and given royal assent on 10 September 2013. The aim of the Bill is to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplant.

BMA Cymru Wales welcomes this measure, as we believe a 'soft' opt-out system is the best way to increase the number of organs available for transplant and save more lives. 


How does the opt-out system work?

Under the new system in Wales, which started on 1 December 2015, there are two forms of consent in law - deemed consent, by those people who have not registered to opt-out of donating an organ, and express consent, by those who have registered to say they wish to be a donor.

A single register records whether or not someone wants to be an organ donor. Donors can also record any wish to donate certain organs but not others.

Relatives can object if they know that the deceased would not have consented. Medical staff would then use their judgement, based on the information provided, to decide whether or not to proceed with using the organs. The information must be sufficient to lead a reasonable person to conclude that they knew the deceased would not have consented.

Deemed consent does not apply to anyone under the age of 18, someone from Wales who dies in another part of the United Kingdom and individuals who are not thought to have the mental capacity to make a decision on whether or not to be an organ donor. Individuals need to have been 'ordinarily resident' in Wales for at least 12 months before their death.


Our campaign

BMA Cymru Wales has been actively involved in the campaign since 2006, when we called for a change to the system. This started the debate in the media and in the Assembly.

  • July 2006 BMA Cymru Wales calls for the first law to be made in Wales to change the organ donation system to opt-out
  • October 2007 Wales Health Minister Edwina Hart reveals she is personally in favour of presumed consent
  • November 2007 A Wales-wide debate about organ donation is launched
  • January 2008 Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he is in favour of presumed consent
  • July 2008 The National Assembly's health committee rejects the idea of opt-out, instead it calls for investment to increase transplant capacity
  • November 2008 The UK Organ Donor Taskforce also rejects the idea of presumed consent, setting out a series of recommendations to increase donation under the current system
  • December 2009 Wales Health Minister Edwina Hart announces Wales will pursue legislation to introduce opt-out
  • June 2011 First Minister Carwyn Jones includes an opt-out Bill in the Welsh Government's legislative programme
  • November 2011 The Welsh Government publishes its White Paper proposing a move to opt-out in Wales
  • June 2012 The Welsh Government publishes the draft Bill
  • July 2013 The Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill is passed
  • September 2013 The Bill receives royal assent
  • December 2015 The opt-out law came into effect


Related content

Soft opt-out boost organ donation in Wales (BMA News)

Wales passes organ donation opt-out law (BMA News)