Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 09:12 UK

Transplant list passes 500 mark

Stewart and Connie Rankin
Stewart Rankin and wife Connie have had to reverse roles

A father-of-two who is waiting for a heart transplant is criticising AMs' decision not to support a system of "presumed consent" organ donation.

Stewart Rankin, 58, spoke out as it emerged there are now more than 500 people in Wales awaiting transplants.

Mr Rankin, from Rogerstone, Newport said it was a "disgrace" that so many people were having to wait for help.

The assembly government is still considering the health committee's report on organ donation.

The charity Donate Wales has announced the waiting list for people awaiting transplants in Wales had reached more than 500 for the first time.

Of the 501 people in Wales listed , 437 are waiting for a kidney transplant.

Mr Rankin is one of four awaiting a heart transplant.

The father of two teenage daughters, who has a congenital heart condition, has been waiting for a total of 760 days.

He said: "The problem is that the Welsh assembly committee has decided that it won't support a system of "presumed consent" and that will put off other parts of the UK who are looking at whether they should support it.

Donor card
A new campaign asks people to tell loved ones their wishes

"Now the waiting list in Wales for the first time has gone over the 500 mark.

"It's a disgrace for any prosperous, civilised society to say that they have got 500 people who are presumably going to die waiting for a transplant."

Mr Rankin formerly worked in a number of different jobs including running a smallholding, but now he stays at home while his wife Connie goes to work.

The couple have two daughters Willow, 18, who is taking a gap year before going to university, and 16-year-old Molly, who has just sat her GCSEs.

He said: "To treat the people who are waiting for transplants in Wales costs 40m each year.

"To give all of transplants would cost around 8m, saving in the first year alone something like 30m."

Good intentions

Donate Wales said in the last 20 weeks alone 13 people have died whilst on the waiting list.

Roy Thomas, the charity's chairman, said the figures of 501 on the waiting list underlined why it was "so important more of us who want to help should join the Organ Donor Register".

The charity launched its Tell a Loved One Campaign in May. Since then almost 14,000 have joined the register, but Mr Thomas said more are still needed with only 27% of the Welsh population signed up.

He said: "We would like to say thank you to those that have joined the Organ Donor Register in Wales and told their loved ones about their wishes, but the challenge does not stop there.

"We urge those that want to help to act on their good intentions and sign-up now. It only takes a few minutes to do so and you could save a life one day."

'Public debates'

Last month the assembly health committee voted not to support a system of "presumed consent" for organ donation.

Instead, they said they wanted public sector bodies to do more to encourage people to sign up as organ and bone marrow donors.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "Mrs Hart has always made clear she is personally in favour of considering presumed consent as a way of increasing the number of organ donations.

"However, she recognises that any changes to legislation would require wide-ranging consultation and the testing of public opinion as this is a sensitive and emotive issue.

"She has asked officials to develop proposals on how we can take forward a public debate in Wales on presumed consent.

"It is important that everyone has the opportunity to contribute, and we expect to launch a consultation and series of public debates on the issue in September."




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