Wales

Campaign to adopt Wales' organ donation law in England

  • 25 January 2017
  • From the section Wales
Organ Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Adults in Wales are regarded as having allowed organ donation unless they have opted out

A campaign for Wales' organ donation laws to be adopted in England has been launched by a mother whose daughter needed a transplant.

Wales became the only nation in the UK to introduce a "deemed consent" system in December 2015.

Kerry Smith, from Abergele, Conwy county, but now living in Cheltenham, said it could save even more lives.

The Department of Health in England said it was waiting to see how changes in Welsh legislation impact donations.

Ms Smith's daughter Megan Carson, 15, first became ill on a school trip last summer and medical tests revealed she had auto-immune hepatitis - a disease in which the body's own immune system attacks the liver.

She needed a liver transplant and luckily a donor was found within a couple of months.

Ms Smith told the BBC's Wales Today programme the experience made them realise the shortage of donor organs could be helped if England adopted the same system as across the border.

Image caption Kerry Smith and her daughter Megan said changing the law in England would save more lives

It means adults would be regarded as having consented to organ donation unless they have opted out.

The problem is particularly acute for children's organs, as those aged under 20 make up only 4% of those on the donor register.

"The more organs that are available, the more lives that are saved," Ms Smith said.

"My daughter Megan had to wait just less than two months, we were incredibly lucky to get a donor that quickly."

She added it would also "ease the decision that upset relatives have to make at that time".

Megan said: "There aren't enough people who are donating in England.

"One person can donate several organs and I think presumed consent can help so much more than just opting-in because not enough do."

Labour's Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, has already called for change and has introduced a Private Members Bill that, if passed, would see presumed consent adopted across the UK.

"The system has proved to be a huge success and has saved a great many lives," he said.

"Every day that goes by, those in the rest of the United Kingdom have to suffer the anxiety of waiting for an organ and in many cases it's not available and they tragically die."

In a statement, the Department of Health in England said it had "no plans to introduce an opt-out system but were waiting to see how changes in legislation in Wales impact on donations".

It added that it would "continue to work closely with the Welsh Government to identify ways to build on the significant increase in organ donations already achieved since 2008".

"Ongoing work as part of the implementation of the Transplantation 2020 strategy aims to bring UK donor and transplant rates to a world class level, giving many more people the opportunity of a transplant," the statement said.

"We encourage everyone to discuss their organ donation wishes with their family and friends."

  • Find out more later on Wales Today, BBC One Wales, at 18:30 GMT.

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