Organ donations in Wales fall over 12 months

Bilingual organ donor card
Image caption Ministers want Wales to be the first part of the UK to introduce to presumed consent

A drop in the number of organ donations in Wales over the last 12 months has been reported.

However the health minister has said a plan to introduce presumed consent on donations is not to blame for the fall.

Mark Drakeford said the figures needed to be seen in context.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) figures showed despite last year's drop, over the last five years there had been a small rise of 15% overall in donations from Wales.

Wales saw the lowest rise in donations over the last five years of the four home nations - well below the average of 50%.

There were 52 organ donations after death in Wales in 2012/13, down from 67 the previous year.

The Welsh government is hoping to adopt a system of presumed consent for donating organs after death.

The opt-out system, which could be introduced in 2015, would mean everyone is regarded as a willing donor when they die unless they state otherwise.

Currently if people wish to donate after death they must join the donor register, carry donor cards or express their wishes to family.

"Over the last five years, the numbers of deceased organ donors in Wales has followed a generally positive trend," said Mr Drakeford.

"Fluctuations in these figures are to be expected and because the numbers involved in these statistics are relatively small, slight changes in numbers can affect the overall picture greatly.

"The trend, rather than single year changes, tells the important story."

"There is no specific evidence that the fall in donor numbers is related to the Welsh government's proposed legislation on organ donation," added Mr Drakeford.

"We believe a system of deemed consent is the most effective way to increase the numbers of organs available for transplant and save lives."

A debate in the assembly on the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill is expected later this month.

Specialist nurses

In 2008, the UK's health ministers accepted recommendations of the Organ Donation Taskforce on increasing donations.

The rise has been largely credited to the network of specialist nurses who approach and support bereaved relatives in hospitals.

Since the Taskforce report recommendations the number of people donating organs after death has risen 50% across the UK.

Scotland and Northern Ireland saw the largest increases in deceased donors, by 74% and 82% respectively.

Each donor has the potential to help nine people through donation of a heart, lungs, two kidneys, pancreas, liver and small bowel and two corneas.

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