Organ donation: More ethnic minority lives would be saved in opt-out, says charity

Kidney transplant (file photo - 2006)
Image caption The Welsh government intends introducing presumed consent laws by 2015

More black, Asian and ethnic minority lives will be saved under an "opt-out" organ donation system, a charity says.

Roy Thomas, the chairman of Kidney Wales Foundation (KWF), said these groups are three times more likely to need a transplant compared to the rest of the population.

But he said fewer than 2% have signed-up to the NHS Organ Donation Register.

It comes as a donor expert accused the Welsh government of misleading the assembly over its organ donation bill.

John Fabre, professor of clinical sciences at King's College London, said the policy was misinterpreted based on information from Spain's system.

Prof Fabre, the author of several papers on international systems of organ donation, claimed Spain's high donation rate was as a result of the available facilities and coordination in the Spanish health service, not the result of legislation.

Key component

The Human Transplantation Bill, which could become law by 2015, would mean adults living in Wales would have to "opt-out" of the organ donation system if they did not want to donate after death.

Currently, people have to actively "opt-in" to become a donor.

But KWF used the example of Belgium, where only 2% of the population opted-out of a presumed consent system and said it proved a "great success" with donor rates increasing by 55% in the first five years.

In evidence to the assembly's health and social care committee, Mr Thomas said a change in the law was a "key component" to a change in organ donation.

He added: "It is, however, key that the proposed legislation is implemented with the goodwill of the people of Wales.

"A transplant law provides only a legal environment which can influence the extent to which potential donors can be used.

"The law in proper practice will be essential."

Mr Thomas told the committee: "We have been campaigning for the change in the law over many years and we have a determination to see the successful implementation of the law because of the clear effect it will have in changing the cultural approach in Wales and the UK on organ donation."

A Welsh government spokesman said the Spanish government's website "points to the adoption of appropriate legislation as one element of the success of their model for organ donation".

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