Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Transplant survey 'positive step'

Allison John (L) with other Kidney Wales Foundation supporters
Allison John (L) hopes to return to medical school in September

A woman who has had multiple organ transplants has welcomed public consultation into potential changes to the way organs are donated in Wales.

A Welsh assembly committee is looking at whether a system of presumed consent could or should be introduced.

Allison John, 29, from Cardiff, who has had liver, heart and lung and kidney transplants, called it a "positive step forward".

Currently organs are only taken from people who have registered as donors.

Ms John, who was born with cystic fibrosis, received a liver transplant 12 years ago, after an 11-year-old girl died in a riding accident.

She had been waiting 16 months for the organ and described it as an "horrendous experience".

"It was only in the nick of time an organ became available," she said.

She then had a heart and lung transplant 10 years ago, and 14 months ago her father donated his kidney to her.

Any change to the law on organ donation must be fully thought through and take account of public concerns.
Jonathan Morgan AM

Ms John, who does voluntary work for the Kidney Wales Foundation, welcomed consultation as a way to "gauge public perception".

"We need to have an open discussion to see what peoples' fears are. With certain conditions like diabetes on the increase and an ageing population, it's a very real concept that someone might need an organ transplant ."

Ms John said other European countries like Spain, France, Belgium and Austria followed the system of presumed consent.

It means that when people die their organs can be taken automatically, unless they have previously registered an objection.

The assembly's health, wellbeing and local government committee is carrying out the inquiry into the potential for making changes to the way organs are donated in Wales.

Visitors to the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay and to the assembly's other offices will be given background information and asked to complete a short questionnaire asking their views.

operation (generic)
The number waiting for a kidney transplant in Wales has risen

The committee is also launching an online poll and discussion forum and its chair, Jonathan Morgan AM, said: "There is little doubt that transplant surgery can save lives and improve the quality of lives of those who benefit from it. There is also a pressing shortage of donors.

"However, we need to make sure that the views of the public are heard. Any change to the law on organ donation must be fully thought through and take account of public concerns.

"The Senedd receives a large number of visitors and it is a good way of capturing the views of a cross-section of the public," Mr Morgan added.

"The online polls and discussion forum are another way that the public can give their views on this important issue."

The results will form part of the evidence on which the committee bases its final conclusions.

Kidney patients rally for changes
12 Jan 08 |  South West Wales
Father cycles for transplant sons
03 Feb 07 |  South East Wales

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