Sup­port grow­ing for or­gan opt-out

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

SUP­PORT for the opt-out sys­tem of or­gan do­na­tion in Wales has in­creased in the two years it has been in place, a study has found.

An eval­u­a­tion of the Hu­man Trans­plan­ta­tion (Wales) Act found mem­bers of the public, and NHS staff, are now more in favour of the sys­tem.

Be­fore im­ple­men­ta­tion, 71% of staff said they were in favour of the change in leg­is­la­tion, in­creas­ing to 85% af­ter­wards.

The per­cent­age of fam­i­lies giv­ing con­sent for do­na­tion rose from 44.4% in 2014 to 64.5% in 2017.

More than half of peo­ple in­volved in the 2017 study said they had dis­cussed their or­gan do­na­tion wishes with a fam­ily mem­ber.

This fig­ure was about 40% be­tween 2012 and 2015.

Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health sec­re­tary, said he wel­comed the find­ings of the study.

“I con­grat­u­late the health­care pro­fes­sion­als in­volved in mak­ing this a suc­cess how­ever, none of what we have achieved would have been pos­si­ble with­out the sup­port of the Welsh pop­u­la­tion,” Mr Gething said.

“I’m de­lighted that in the first two quar­ters of this year, our con­sent rate reached 72% putting us sec­ond in the UK, with 39% of the Welsh pop­u­la­tion reg­is­ter­ing as or­gan donors.

“While this is not re­flected in a rise in donors over­all, the report sug­gests this may be be­cause there have been fewer el­i­gi­ble donors over the short pe­riod since the change in law.

“We must work harder to fur­ther in­crease or­gan do­na­tion lev­els while there are peo­ple dy­ing wait­ing for their trans­plant and to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on re­duc­ing those wait­ing lists.

“It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that it’s too early to know what the true im­pact of the change will be, but I’m con­fi­dent we have started to cre­ate a cul­ture where or­gan do­na­tion is openly dis­cussed.

“While aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing is in­creas­ing, it’s re­ally im­por­tant that we keep the mo­men­tum go­ing and con­tinue to mon­i­tor, over the long term, the im­pact of the Act.”

Wales be­came the first UK coun­try to move to a soft opt-out sys­tem of con­sent to or­gan do­na­tion on De­cem­ber 1 in 2015.

If a per­son has not opted in or opted out, they are con­sid­ered as hav­ing no ob­jec­tion to be­ing an or­gan donor.

Or­gan do­na­tion ac­tiv­ity data for 2016/17, pub­lished by NHS Blood and Trans­plant, showed that the num­ber of pa­tients who died on the wait­ing list de­creased 18.5%. In to­tal, 27 peo­ple died wait­ing for their trans­plant be­tween 2015/16 whereas 22 died in 2016/17.

The num­ber of donors after brain stem death in­creased by four, from 36 in 2015/16 to 40 in 2016/17.

One more pa­tient liv­ing in Wales re­ceived a car­diac trans­plant, while the num­ber of peo­ple re­ceiv­ing a live kid­ney trans­plant in­creased by five.

An ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign was launched in Novem­ber to in­crease public aware­ness of the law, fo­cus­ing on the role of fam­i­lies in the or­gan do­na­tion process.

In 2016/17, there were 21 cases in Wales in which fam­i­lies over­rode their rel­a­tives’ de­ci­sions to do­nate or­gans, or did not sup­port the deemed con­sent.

A spokes­woman for the Welsh Govern­ment said this could have re­sulted in as many as 65 ad­di­tional trans­plants.

This is be­cause the av­er­age num­ber of or­gans re­trieved per donor in Wales is 3.1.

Vaughan Gething

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