The Welsh government has approved a bill introducing presumed consent for organ donation, raising concerns that individuals will be treated as ‘resources’ by the state.
The legislation, which was voted in on 2 July, means that all those over 18 who have lived in Wales for more than 12 months will be presumed to have consented to organ donation, unless they file a formal refusal prior to their death.
CARE says that while more should be done to reduce the number of people dying while awaiting an organ transparent, evidence from other countries suggests that it is not the system of organ donation which makes the difference; rather, it is practical arrangements, such as higher numbers of specialists and organ donation teams and increased availability of intensive care beds.
It says that, under the terms of the bill, organ donation ceases to become an altruistic gift. It is simply not possible to donate without consent being given; to take an organ in this way is not donation at all.
CARE wrote to Welsh Assembly members urging them to support amendments to the bill, which would have ensured family members have a right, in law, to have a say over the donation of a loved one’s organs, if they die without declaring their wishes.
Dr Dan Boucher, CARE’s director of parliamentary affairs and Welsh policy officer, said, ‘The Welsh government has been effective in placating people’s fears. However, assurances that family wishes will be respected are somewhat hollow, as this promise does not appear in the legislation itself.
‘The role of the family is confined only to where the views of a loved one are known. Where the views are unknown, the bill does not allow for the family to play a role at all. Therefore, this bill is not the more sensitive “soft” opt-out system which was promised’.
CARE added that, although the legislation can no longer be amended, there would be a consultation on the code of practice accompanying the legislation, and it will be taking action in the near future to ensure there are robust measures to ensure families’ wishes are respected.