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Landmark Welsh Organ Donation Law receives Royal Assent

Published in News at 16:01, Tuesday September 10th, 2013. Last updated at 16:39, Tuesday September 10th, 2013

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A landmark law to introduce a soft opt-out system of organ donation in Wales has received Royal Assent.

Wales will become the first nation in the UK to introduce such a system when the law comes into effect on December 1, 2015.

A soft opt-out system of organ donation means unless a person makes a decision to be a donor (opts in) or not to be a donor (opts out), their consent to donation will be deemed to have been given.

At any one time there are about 220 Welsh residents on the active waiting list for a transplant. Last year, around one person a week died in Wales while waiting for an organ donation.

The Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 completed its passage through the National Assembly for Wales on July 2nd 2013. A Bill receives Royal Assent when Letters Patent under the Welsh Seal signed with Her Majesty’s own hand signifying Her Assent are notified to the Clerk of the National Assembly. The Bill then becomes an Act of the Assembly.

First Minister Carwyn Jones applied the Welsh Seal to the Letters Patent in a ceremony in Cardiff today (Tuesday September 10).

Mr Jones said: “The Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 is arguably the most significant piece of legislation passed by the National Assembly for Wales since it acquired full lawmaking powers in 2011.

“Many people will wait years for a transplant but sadly, many die waiting on the list. The shortage of human organs continues to cause otherwise preventable deaths and suffering.

“This law will not only help reduce the waiting list, but will also help save lives by reducing the number of people who needlessly die waiting for an organ transplant.’

Wales’ Health Minister, Mark Drakeford added: “This is a momentous day in the history of the Welsh Government and I am proud to have been the Health Minister in post when this seminal piece of legislation came into being.

“Although we celebrate the commencement of the Act today, it is important to remember the new system will not come into force until December 1, 2015, following a two year public information campaign.

“During this two year campaign, people will be given plenty of information on how the new system works and what their choices are. Even today though people can help others by ensuring their loved ones know their wishes about organ donation and I would encourage everyone to have that conversation.”

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