In a new ad campaign to encourage Welsh people to donate organs, the Kidney Wales Foundation has filmed real-life patients who are awaiting organ transplants. The advert was filmed in an actual jail cell to emphasize the anxiety of those on ‘Death Row’ (the waiting list), many of whom will die soon if they can’t get the new kidney or other organ they need.
Roy J. Thomas, chairman of Donate Wales and Kidney Wales, said that hopefully the impact on the U.K. will be strong enough to convince the rest of the country to follow Wales’ lead in an ‘opt out’ programme, where instead of having to sign up on an organ donor registry, every citizen will be automatically included in the registry unless they state otherwise.
At present, Britain has one of the lowest numbers of organ donors and related transplant operations amongst the larger European countries including Spain, France, Portugal and Belgium.
A number of studies and surveys throughout the British Isles indicate that at least 90% of the population would be willing to donate their organs, but only about 28% have actually joined the organ donor registry.
Mr. Thomas believes that the change to an opt out approach will save many more lives, and that the public in general will endorse it. The current campaign is meant to urge Westminster to pass legislation similar to that in other countries where the percentage of organ donors is much higher.
There are valid arguments both for and against the proposition, with the opposing parties stressing the lack of public awareness, i.e. that many people won’t get the message that they have to state their preference if they do not want be donors, and that the individual’s wishes may not be known.
However, the opt out system has the backing of the British Medical Association and numerous other organizations including the British Heart Association and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).