The Welsh Government?s legislation proposing Wales moves to an opt-out rather than opt-in system for organ donation was laid today.

Roy J Thomas Chairman of Kidney Wales Foundation said ?Wales will be leading the way in the UK as it did on having the donor register on a computer . The current level of organ donation in the UK is far too low as demand increases. Wales and its people and progressive elected politicians realise that the present position has failed those who die waiting. Many people wish that on their death their organs be used to save the lives of others but have not opted in to the current system. Kidney Wales has been talking to the Welsh Assembly Government and leaders of all the Political Parties for an opt out system-we are nearly there. We have fine cross party support. Even with improved conventional donation rates opt out remains a clear strong change to vastly increase the availability of organs to meet growing demand.?

Roy J Thomas added ?The Kidney Wales Foundation People Like Us Campaign first proposed an Opt Out System with the Welsh Assembly Government on 22 of September 2007 with Edwina Hart the Health Minister. We are delighted with cross party support that the arguments have received. It shows the importance of the Assembly and that it makes a difference.?

Kidney Wales pioneered computeritsiation of cards in 1986 (see Notes). The first meeting promoted by Kidney Wales on Opt Out was a success in September 2007. After the meeting with leading politicians from across all parties the Minister Edwina Hart on 22 of September 2007 said that she would reply to the report and will also look at other areas such as a public consultation on presumed consent. Others who attended included Kidney Wales Patients from the Kidney Wales Children’s Centre, BMA, APE Renal Committee, Patients from all parts of Wales, Carers and Donor Families.

The gap between the demand and the supply of human organs for transplantation is on the rise, despite the efforts of governments and health agencies to promote donor registration. In some countries of continental Europe, however, cadaveric organ procurement is based on the principle of presumed consent. Under opt out legislation, a deceased individual is classified as a potential donor in absence of explicit opposition to donation before death.


The Kidney Wales Foundation was established in 1967. In its 44 year history it has, through a thriving fund raising base, supported many aspects of kidney patient care in Wales including transplantation. In addition Kidney Wales played a major role in getting an organ donor card attached to the new driving licence and was instrumental in setting up Lifeline Wales ? a computer register of people willing to be organ donors in the event of their death.

Wales as ever was too modest when it looked at the Organ Donor Registry. We claim Wales was pioneering in the 1980’s. The World will recognise the contribution as KW is now 40 years old.

In 1983 a computerised organ donor registry was set up at Manchester University. Local intensive care units checked the database using personal computers and modems whenever they had in their care a potential organ donor whose wishes were not known. In 1986 the scheme was extended to Wales with funding from the Welsh Office and the Kidney Research Unit for Wales Foundation. Special bilingual donor cards were sent to 1.2 million Welsh homes in 1986, with regular distributions since. The card had a small tear off portion identical with the standard donor card, and this was retained by the person. The other part was returned to the registry office of Lifeline Wales, where personal details were transferred to magnetic tape and sent to Manchester for entry into the computer. In 1990 the Manchester computer ceased operating and the Lifeline Wales database was transferred to Cardiff. Because the computer terminals in the 15 intensive care units in Wales were seldom used they were withdrawn from service in 1990. Staff now check the database by consulting the scheme’s transplant coordinators , who have their own terminal. The donor card was also modified to include a question on blood donation.

One year after launching Lifeline Wales 100 000 potential donors had been registered. The accrual of names has been more gradual since then, reaching 290 640 by January 1993 . About 17 000 new names continue to be added annually. Before 1986 there were about 35 donors each year. Two years after the launch this had increased to 44 donors (representing 20 donors per million of the population), which was the highest regional procurement rate in the United Kingdom.

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