Welsh Government launches consultation on introducing ‘opt-out’ organ donation

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation proposing to replace the current ‘opt-in’ system of organ donation with the ‘soft opt-out’ system, becoming the first part of the UK to do so. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the news, having long been a vocal supporter of the soft opt-out system.

Under the current opt-in system, individuals must actively choose to join the organ donor register, whereas with a soft opt-out system organ donation is the default position, but relatives are asked if they are aware of any unregistered objection to the individual donating their organs.

The BHA gave evidence to the Welsh Assembly Committee looking into systems of organ donation in 2008. BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented, ‘The "soft system" of presumed consent which is being proposed in Wales accommodates the wishes of individuals and their family members who do not want to donate organs, while at the same time the opt-out system has the potential to profoundly benefit society as whole if it increases the availability of organs. In turn, many lives would be saved, and the practice of organ trafficking would be greatly reduced. Ideally, we would like to see such a system implemented throughout the UK, as the evidence shows that it is effective in saving lives while protecting individual autonomy.’

For further comment or information, please contact Naomi Phillips on 07540 257101.

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on organ donation.

Read the Welsh Government press release and consultation document, Proposals for Legislation on organ and tissue donation: A Welsh Government White Paper.

Join the Organ Donation Register.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.