IN 2015 Wales will become the first country in the UK to switch to an opt-out system of organ donation.
But why is it happening and how will it work?
WHY IS WALES CHANGING THE CURRENT SYSTEM?
Very few of us will ever die in the circumstances where organ donation will be a possibility and because of this, it is important to have a system in place to ensure the maximum numbers of donors as possible are identified.
Many people who may have had no real objection to being an organ donor do not end up donating organs after their death, even though they could have done so, because families often do not know what their deceased relative would have wanted.
We believe a soft opt-out system, where a person's consent will be deemed to have been given unless they objected during their lifetime, will make organ donation more normal in our society by making it less reliant on people having to record a wish.
Everyone will have the right to register a wish if they want to, either to become a donor (to opt in) or not to be a donor (to opt out).
WILL IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Evidence shows that, overall, countries with opt-out systems see an increase of between 25 and 30% in donation rates.
A similar increase in Wales could mean an additional 15 or 16 donors and around another 45 organs becoming available.
Many people have argued against the introduction of a soft opt-out system because they feel we should do more to publicise the current Organ Donor Register and invest more money into systems and staffing for organ donation. This work will still continue.
However, we believe we need to take the additional step of changing the law to introduce a soft opt-out system for consent to help sustain and improve even further on the donation rates.
Financially, it will also make a difference to the NHS in Wales, because people who have a transplant no longer have to receive expensive and sometimes long-term treatment like kidney dialysis.
The money saved can be reinvested in services for other patients.
People who have had transplants also have a better quality of life and rely much less on other services, such as social care; many return to work and can resume a normal life.
HOW WILL IT WORK?
There will be a single register for people living in Wales on which anyone can either record a wish to be a donor (an opt-in decision) or a wish not to be a donor (an opt-out decision).
People will be deemed to have given their consent to donation, unless they had already stated they did not wish to be a donor (opted out) or if they had already given consent themselves by saying they did want to be a donor (opted in).
The main change will affect people over the age of 18 who live and die in Wales.
A person will need to be "ordinarily resident" in Wales for 6 months or more for the new deemed consent law to apply to them.
Those close to the deceased do not have the legal right to veto or overrule the decision of the deceased to have their consent deemed.
Clinical teams will have a duty of care towards the surviving relatives and if there are very strong objections or distress, then organ donation is unlikely to go ahead. All organs donated will go into the current UK pool.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
There will be a very full communication campaign in the run-up to the new law coming into force and on an ongoing basis.
This is important because in order to ensure deemed consent is valid, people must have been given every opportunity to make a choice to opt out, if that is what they want to do.
It will also be important to ensure people approaching their 18th birthday and people who have just moved to Wales know about the new law.