The Health Minister Vaughan Gething has hailed Wales’ opt-out organ donation scheme on the fifth anniversary of its introduction.
Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce the system where presumed consent was given for organ donation unless the person had opted out, and this has “transformed lives” according to the Minister.
He also paid tribute to organ donors who he said had “given the gift of life to others”.
England has now introduced a similar opt-out system, Scotland is going to do the same next year and Northern Ireland will be consulting on a similar change.
Since the scheme was introduced in Wales the number of people opting into the Organ Donor Register has risen 4 per cent from 1,138,527 in 2016/17 to 1,300,494 in the first two quarters of 2020/21.
Consent rates for donation recently reached an all-time high in Wales of 77 per cent in 2018/19, after they were as low as 58 per cent in 2015/16.
There were more than 200 organ transplants completed on Welsh patients in each of the last two years, which is an 11 per cent rise from 180 in 2017/18.
Mr Gething said: “Lives have been transformed by the introduction of a soft opt-out system of consent for organ donation in Wales and we should be proud of what we have achieved.
“Not only this, but the families of donors have also taken solace in the fact their loved ones have given the gift of life to others.
“None of this would have been possible without the generosity of donors and their families, who give their support, as well as the dedication of all the clinical staff involved.
“We should be incredibly proud of leading the way with an organ donation opt-out scheme in Wales and showing the rest of the UK that such a scheme could work.
“Our achievements have not only saved lives and improved people’s quality of life, but also acted as an example about what a compassionate country can do to care for its citizens.
“There will always be room for improvement and people still need to have the confidence to discuss the matter of organ donation with their families, but the progress we have made in the last five years will be felt for generations to come.”