Organ donation: Church leaders in Wales attack presumed consent

Dr Barry Morgan addressed the meeting The Archbishop of Wales addressed a recent debate on the subject in a Cardiff city centre church

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Church leaders in Wales have criticised "ill-judged" proposals for presumed consent rules on organ donation.

The Roman Catholic Church in Wales, Church in Wales and Wales Orthodox Mission urged the Welsh government to revisit its policy process.

In a joint statement they said they were "profoundly committed" to human dignity in life and death.

The Welsh government said it wanted as many people as possible to join the debate on the matter.

The church leaders said their response was based on social, moral and ethical principles.

Their statement, they said, was intended to contribute these important elements to the current debate.

They said the principles outlined in their document "seek to preserve the dignity and autonomy of every person whilst creating a proper framework in which the gift of human organs after death is precisely that - an act of solidarity, generosity and love."

Start Quote

Our main concern is that the positive ethos of donation as a free gift is being endangered by an ill-judged if well-intentioned proposal to move from voluntary donation to presumed consent”

End Quote Church leaders in Wales joint statement

"Our main concern," the statement continues, "is that the positive ethos of donation as a free gift is being endangered by an ill-judged if well-intentioned proposal to move from voluntary donation to presumed consent."

Debate

The statement urges the Welsh government to establish a cross party committee to consider all the evidence submitted to the previous enquiries of the last three years.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "There are still two weeks to go before the consultation closes and I want as many people to be part of this process as possible. If you have not done so already, let us know what you think of these proposals.

"This is an exciting time. We are making Welsh history and all who make their opinions known in this consultation are part of that history."

Ms Griffiths said the Welsh government wanted to improve the lives of the hundreds of people on the transplant waiting list in Wales and throughout Britain.

"As well as transforming lives, transplantation is one of the most cost effective treatments and we need to do everything we can to increase the number of organs available," she said.

The church leaders' move comes after the Church in Wales staged a public debate to discuss presumed consent.

Under the Welsh government proposal, everyone in Wales would automatically become a donor unless they opted out.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has already called for the legislation to be scrapped.

The debate was held at John the Baptist Church in central Cardiff.

Official consultation will end on 31 January.

The latest figures show Wales has reached a deceased organ donation rate of 27.7 per million people (pmp), compared to the UK average rate of 16.3 pmp.

It places Wales above many other European countries, including France (23.8 pmp), Italy (21.6 pmp) and Belgium (20.5 pmp), which already has a system of presumed consent, according to figures for 2010.

The proposed change to the law has been backed by organisations such as the British Medical Association, British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, British Lung Foundation, the Welsh Kidney Patients Association.

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