Just watched the BBC's 'Week In, Week Out' programme of last Tues on IPlayer. The subject was one that I had decided not to say much more about - but the programme has stirred me up. This issue is as controversial as it gets - the Welsh Gov't'd proposals to introduce 'presumed consent' into the organ donation system in Wales. It was a very good programme, and I strongly recommend anyone interested in this issue watch it. It builds on a Dragon's Eye programme, also produced by BBC Wales on the same issue last year - the best ever edition of Dragon's Eye ever broadcast.
I have always been in favour of doing what we can to increase the number of organs available for transplant. I share the desire to do what we can to meet the needs of those awaiting new organs. Its just that I have never believed that introducing 'presumed consent' will increase the number of organs at all, and there is not a shred of evidence to support those who claim it will. I always feel a surge of anger (which I've learned to contain) whenever I hear 'spokepersons' stating that the change will increase number of organs available by 25%. It is simply not true. At least the Welsh Gov't Health Minister has started to say "could increase etc" which I suppose is true even if deceptive.
Worth mentioning how impressive former Conservative AM, Jonathon Morgan was on the programme. Class act - clear, concise, confident, and leaving viewers with the impression that his view was based on evidence - the same evidence that informs my view, and everyone else prepared to study it. And it was clear he knew what he was talking about. Must admit I was a bit alarmed that the Health Minister repeatedly refused to use words that would make clear that next of kin's opinions would be over-ruled by clinicians if the Welsh law is introduced. She made herself sound like a politician trying to hide her true intentions. Left me thinking - So much for 'soft opt-out'.
Perhaps my greatest concern is that a change in Wales will damage the entire UK organ donation system. I am reluctant to become involved in what the Welsh Gov't does, but I do have a responsibility as an MP for the UK system. I have no choice but press the Dep't of Health to study the effects and make public what they calculate will happen, including the dangers. Will begin asking questions on the issue in the House of Commons.
Another concern I have is that I cannot believe that the welsh Gov't has competence to pass a law which so clearly threatens the human rights of individuals. If no transplants are allowed to take place without next of kin approval, I can see that the proposal may fall within Welsh Gov't competence - but not otherwise. As sure as night follows day, an organ would be taken from someone who's next of kin objects and takes a case to the European Court of Human Rights. This proposal, if enacted, will inevitably finish up in the Supreme Court. I have taken no pleasure at all in writing this blog post.