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Could it be you? Wales reaches its millionth registered organ donor

Wales may be a relatively small country but the number of registered organ donors is expected to top the million mark for the very first time in Wales this month. This is equivalent to one person registering as an organ donor every 10 minutes in Wales over the past 20 years. 

The identity of the millionth person to join the NHS Organ Donor Register in Wales, or where they live, is not known. But by signing the register – and talking to their family about their wishes – that person will have made a decision which could potentially save the lives of a number of people on the transplant waiting list.

Sadly, on average someone dies every 11 days in Wales while waiting for a suitable organ transplant.

First Minister, Carwyn Jones said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for Wales which has the potential to change so many lives.  

“This landmark figure is another step towards reducing the number of people who die while waiting for a potentially life-saving transplant. It is important that we continue to raise awareness of organ donation and encourage more people to make their wishes known.”

The Welsh Government’s Health Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“I would like to thank the people of Wales for their generosity of spirit as we mark a million registered organ donors.

“This is a fantastic achievement but we cannot rest on our laurels. More than 30 people die in Wales every year while waiting for an organ transplant.

“Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register is an important way for people to show their support for organ donation but it is also important they talk to their loved ones about their decision as the majority of organ donors are not on the register.”

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant said:

“It’s fantastic that we’re within touching distance of one million people in Wales registering their wishes to donate their organs when they die.  As fewer than 5,000 people die across the UK in circumstances where they can donate their organs every year, every potential donor is precious.

“The more people in Wales and across the UK who join the register, the less potentially life-saving organs will go to waste.  We know that families are much more likely to agree to donation when their loved one is on the register and has discussed their decision.”

The majority of people on the transplant waiting list are on dialysis while they wait for a new kidney. Roy J Thomas, chairman of Kidney Wales Foundation, said:

“This demonstrates that the people of Wales understand the importance of organ donation and the huge impact it has in saving lives and changing a life which has suffered on dialysis.

“Transplantation is cost-efficient for the NHS and in Wales we are leading the way in awareness-raising as people in Wales understand its importance.”

On December 1, 2015, Wales will become the first country in the UK to introduce a new system of deemed consent for organ donation. It is hoped this change will help increase the pool of potential organ donors – even though Wales has reached the million milestone, only a third of the population is registered as an organ donor.

Professor Drakeford added:

“This is one of the reasons why the Welsh Government is making landmark changes to the organ donation law and introducing a system of deemed consent.”

A new organ donor register will be launched to support the change in the law in December 2015 in Wales.  It will continue to allow anyone to opt in – as they currently do - but it will also include a new choice to opt-out from being an organ donor for people living in Wales.

From December 1, 2015, those people who have lived in Wales for more than 12 months who do not opt in to the register or opt out will be regarded as having consented to organ donation. This means that by doing nothing an individual has no objection to being a donor and will be treated in the same way as if they had chosen to be a donor.

To support this change to the law, the Welsh Government has introduced a public information campaign called It’s About Time, which aims to educate and inform the public about organ donation and the changes in Wales.

To register as an organ donor and to find out more about the changes to the law in Wales visit the Organ Donation Wales website or call the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23.

Channel website: http://gov.wales

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