Organ donation in Wales

There are 10,000 people in the UK waiting for an organ transplant, but a massive shortage of donors.

Organ transplants can change, or save, a life. But waiting lists can seem impossibly long.

So we were celebrating here in Wales in February when we became the first country in the UK to make organ and tissue donation an opt-out system, thanks to the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013.

This means we could see the number of organ donors in Wales increasing by 25%!

Bringing in the change

To welcome in the change, we went along to a special event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

It was packed with people who have been given new lives because of transplants, people who are on the waiting list, as well as the government and other charities.

We listened to Rhys Thomas tell his story. He’s a former rugby player, who played for the Welsh national team. He had a heart attack in 2012 and is still on the waiting list for a heart transplant. Rhys talked with passion about supporting the change in law.

It was an emotional day, rounded off by a performance from a local theatre group,Theatr na nÓg. They acted out a moving scene taking place after a woman’s death, and the decisions her loved ones make with her organs.

What opt-out means for you

Before the change, organ donation in Wales worked the same way as the rest of the UK. If you wanted to be an organ donor, you had to register with the NHS Organ Donor register.

If you didn’t, your family would be asked to make a decision about your organs after your death; a difficult time for anyone to make a decision on such an issue.

Only about 120 lung transplants are carried out in the UK every year. For a few people with conditions like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) they can transform lives. The change in law in Wales could help people receive a transplant by increasing the number of lung donors.

Although 9 out of 10 people in Wales support organ donation, only 33% are registered donors. 250 people died in Wales between 2011 and 2015 who could have donated their organs – but only 67 did.

Now that Wales has changed to opt-out, everyone is automatically considered to consent. This means that many people who might want to donate their organs, but never got around to registering with the NHS, will still be able to be a donor.

The new system could help increase the number of donors by 25%.

If you live in England or Scotland, you won’t be affected by the changes.

For more information on the new law take a look at the bill page.

“A lung transplant saved my life”

Joyce received a lung transplant after being given a diagnosis of IPF. See her talk about the procedure below, or read her blog post on how the transplant saved her life.

Organ transplants can change, or save, a life. But waiting lists can seem impossibly long.

So we were celebrating here in Wales this month when we became the first country in the UK to make organ and tissue donation an opt-out system, thanks to the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013.

This means we could see the number of organ donors in Wales increasing by 25%!

Bringing in the change

To welcome in the change, we went along to a special event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

It was packed with people who have been given new lives because of transplants, people who are on the waiting list, as well as the government and other charities.

We listened to Rhys Thomas tell his story. He’s a former rugby player, who played for the Welsh national team. He had a heart attack in 2012 and is still on the waiting list for a heart transplant. Rhys talked with passion about supporting the change in law.

It was an emotional day, rounded off by a performance from a local theatre group,Theatr na nÓg. They acted out a moving scene taking place after a woman’s death, and the decisions her loved ones make with her organs.

What opt-out means for you

Before the change, organ donation in Wales worked the same way as the rest of the UK. If you wanted to be an organ donor, you had to register with the NHS Organ Donor register.

If you didn’t, your family would be asked to make a decision about your organs after your death; a difficult time for anyone to make a decision on such an issue.

Only about 120 lung transplants are carried out in the UK every year. For a few people with conditions like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) they can transform lives. The change in law in Wales could help people receive a transplant by increasing the number of lung donors.

Although 9 out of 10 people in Wales support organ donation, only 33% are registered donors. 250 people died in Wales between 2011 and 2015 who could have donated their organs – but only 67 did.

Now that Wales has changed to opt-out, everyone is automatically considered to consent. This means that many people who might want to donate their organs, but never got around to registering with the NHS, will still be able to be a donor.

The new system could help increase the number of donors by 25%.

If you live in England or Scotland, you won’t be affected by the changes.

For more information on the new law take a look at the bill page.

“A lung transplant saved my life”

Joyce received a lung transplant after being given a diagnosis of IPF. See her talk about the procedure below, or read her blog post on how the transplant saved her life.

Register to become an organ donor in England and Scotland now.


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9 February 2016