Major Campaign Urges People to Talk About Organ Donation

The second phase of a major campaign focusing on the role of families in the organ donation process has been launched by the Welsh Labour Government.

Wrexham’s Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths, has backed the hard-hitting advertisements which show an individual’s choice to donate their organs being overridden by family members.

The latest launch coincides with Organ Donation Week (3rd – 9th September) – a nationwide campaign which urges people to talk to prevent lifesaving transplants being missed because families did not know their loved one’s organ donation decision.

Surveys show around 80% of people in the UK support organ donation, however only 33% of people have told their family that they want to donate.  In circumstances where a family does not know their relative’s decision, they are far more likely to refuse to allow organ donation to take place.

Data published by NHS Blood and Transplant showed that in 2017-18 there were 22 cases in Wales where families either overrode their relatives’ decisions to donate organs, or didn’t support deemed consent.

With an average of 3.2 organs retrieved per donor in Wales in 2017-18, this could have resulted in as many as 70 additional transplants.

Lesley Griffiths AM is a long-time supporter of the measures and said: “After leading the way in introducing this progressive legislation, the Welsh Labour Government is keen to encourage everyone throughout the country to talk with their loved ones about their organ donation wishes.”

“Although figures show consent rates are improving and public awareness and understanding is increasing, there are still a significant number of people dying whilst waiting for their transplant.”

“I hope people in Wrexham will have a chat with their relatives to help ensure their feelings surrounding organ donation are known.”

In December 2015, Wales became the first country in the UK to move to a ‘soft opt-out’ system of consent to organ donation.  This means people who want to be an organ donor can either register a decision to opt in or do nothing.  For those who choose to do nothing, they are regarded as having agreed to organ donation – this is known as deemed consent.

However, if individuals don not tell their family of their decision to donate, the family may not honour that decision and override the organ donor registration or not support deemed consent.