Following suite of other European countries such as Spain and Croatia, Wales became the first country in the United Kingdom to switch from an opt-in consent system for organ donation to a “soft opt-out” system. All Welsh citizens over the age of 18 will automatically be placed on the organ donor register, unless they have actively decided to opt-out by phone or online.
This change in law hopes to see a 25 percent increase in the number of organs available, welcome news to the 7,000 patients currently on the waiting list across the U.K. Last year 14 people died waiting for a transplant. Because organs must be removed so soon after death, only around one percent of people who die are able to have their organs donated.
Other countries who have put in place an opt-out system have seen increases in organ donation. Whether donations increase in Wales will be carefully watched by Scotland and England as they contemplate making changes to their own laws.
While the majority have welcomed the change, some remain skeptical. The Church of Wales argued that the law change could undermine the positive image of organ donation. So far 86,000 people, around three percent of the population, have opted-out.