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Welsh church leaders reject presumed consent for organ donations: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 5. February 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in Wales have expressed profound misgivings over government proposals to establish a presumed consent rule for organ donations.

The “positive ethos of donation as a free gift” the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox leaders said on 23 January 2012 was being “endangered by an ill-judged if well-intentioned proposal to move from voluntary donation to presumed consent.”

The statement follows a public meeting chaired by the Primate of Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan, held in Cardiff on 21 January that explored the morality of consent in conversations with Roy Thomas, the Executive Chair of Kidney Wales Foundation, and Dr Chris Jones, Medical Director of NHS Wales.

While supporting the principle of organ donation, in their statement the church leaders urged the government to revisit its policy process.

“If the proposals in the White Paper are not subject to independent scrutiny then there is a real danger that a change in the law would alienate a significant proportion of the public and undermine the positive image of organ donation and the reputation of Wales. For while a high rate of voluntary donation speaks of a culture of generosity, a system of presumed consent would ‘turn donation into action by default’,” the church leaders said.

The statement endorsed by Dr. Morgan, the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack and the Archimandrite of the Wales Eastern Orthodox Mission, Fr. Dienoil, said the principles the government should follow in creating an organ donation policy must “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.”

In November the Government published a white paper, “Proposals for Legislation on Organ and Tissue Donation” and the public consultation period ends on 31 January 2012.  Under the Welsh government proposal, the problem of a shortage of organ donations would be cured by having everyone in Wales automatically become a donor unless they opted out.

However, the church leaders’ statement said the “most effective way to increase rates of both organ donation and family agreement to donation after death is to encourage people to sign the Organ Donation Register and to talk about the issue with relatives and those close to them.”

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