Wales is expected to become the first part of the UK to bring in an opt-out scheme for organ donation.
The Welsh Assembly will hold the final vote on
the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill later,
which if enacted would bring in a system of "presumed consent"
for organ donation.
Under the proposals, people in Wales will have to clearly indicate that
they do not wish to give their organs when they die in order
to be excluded from the donor register.
Kidney Wales Foundation (KWF) has campaigned for the proposed
change in the law for the last five years and believes that
donor organ availability could be boosted by up to 35%
if it goes through and many more lives could be saved.
"The UK is one of the lowest donor rate countries in Europe," said
Roy Thomas, KWF chief executive.
"The new Bill is new progressive law. We are proud to have led
the debate in favour of this law.
"When introduced in Belgium only 2% opted out, currently only
around a third of the Welsh population is on the organ donor register and this is around the same for the UK as a whole."
Those against the proposals claim it will cause extra distress for
bereaved families and could put medical staff in a difficult position.
Laura Raffour's four-year-old daughter Ava was born with a life-threatening liver condition and underwent heart surgery and two liver transplants before her first birthday. In total she has undergone over 60 operations.
Ms Raffour, who is now on the organ donor register, said:
"Ava has been given a second chance at life and I want other people, young and old, to also have a better quality of life.
"For us, organ donation comes down to the premise that if you're
willing to take, you should be willing to give. Simple as."
In 2004, Gaynor Taylor from Barry, South Wales, lost her 23-year-old
champion skater son Richard in a freak accident.
They had never talked about being an organ donor but Ms Taylor
eventually agree to donation.
She only later found out that Richard put his name on the
NHS Organ Donor Register without telling anybody.
"While we were in favour of organ donation, knowing his wishes made
the whole process a lot easier to accept and meant we had done the
right thing by him," she said.
"Making a decision on whether to allow donation is a very difficult
decision at the most traumatic time.
"Six people's lives were saved as a result of donating Richard's organs and the recipient of Richard’s heart went on to win gold at the Transplant Games
which is an incredible story and proves something positive can sometimes
come from tragedy."
If the legislation is passed, a two-year public information campaign will
follow in Wales to ensure members of the public are fully informed on
what the changes will mean and how to make their wishes known
through a single organ and tissue donation register.
Yet a group of faith leaders and senior health professionals in Wales
have issued a joint statement calling for a soft opt-out option,
which would take into consideration the views of bereaved families.
The signatories, who include the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan,
and the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, George Stack, said:
"The law must be amended in this way if it is not to be inhuman, unfeeling before the suffering of relatives, and a danger to the public trust and support which are necessary for the practice of organ donation to flourish.
"Without this there is a real danger that the law could backfire."
One person dies every week in Wales waiting for an organ transplant.
The figure for the UK as a whole is three people a day.
“You Have the Power to Donate Life – Sign-up today! Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”