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Organ and tissue donation in Wales

This advice applies to Wales

On 1 December 2015, the law about organ and tissue donation changed in Wales. This page tells you about the change and what you can do now to ensure your wishes are followed.

The law in Wales 

The law about organ and tissue donation in Wales used to be the same as in the rest of the UK. But on 1 December 2015, the law in Wales changed.

What's changed?

The new law means that it's assumed you consent to being a donor unless you 'opt out'. This is called ‘deemed consent'.

If you don't want to be a donor, you need to 'opt out'.

Families will always be involved before a donation and will be able to say if they know their loved one didn't want to be a donor.

The new law only applies to people who have lived, and die, in Wales.

What would I be donating?

The organs most often used in transplants are kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and the small bowel.

Tissue donation uses healthy body cells such as corneas, skin, bone, tendons, cartilage and heart valves. Bone, tendons and cartilage are used for reconstruction after an injury or during joint replacement surgery. Skin grafts can be used to treat people with severe burns.

You can register a decision to donate all your organs and tissue, or just certain ones.

Living donor transplants

Some organs can be donated while you are still alive.

The most common organ donated by a living person is a kidney as a healthy person can lead a completely normal life with only one functioning kidney. Kidneys transplanted from living donors have a better chance of long-term survival than those transplanted from people who have died. For all forms of living donor transplants the risk to the donor must be considered very carefully.

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) offer guidance on Living donor transplants.

What should I do now?

You should think about whether you want to be a donor, and make sure your family and friends know what you want. This can help them to know what to do if you are ever in a situation where you cannot tell people what your wishes are. You should also find out what your family and friends would want for themselves.

If you want to be a donor

Whatever your age or health, if you want to be a donor, you should join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Registering your decision makes it easier for others to find out what choice you have made.

You can find information about donation, and can register online as a donor.

You can also ring NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 (lines are open 24 hours a day all year round and calls are charged at your contracted rate for local calls).

You can also do nothing at all - under the new law, this is considered 'implied consent'.

If you don't want to be a donor

If you don't want to be a donor, under the new law you need to register your decision to 'opt-out'. You can also change your decision at any time.

You can register to 'opt out' online, or you can call 0300 123 23 23.

Find out more about the changes in Wales.

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