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Wales to allow hospitals to assume approval for organ donation

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CARDIFF, Wales, July 3 (UPI) -- The Welsh Assembly Tuesday approved a bill that would presume anyone who dies in the country has consented to donate organs unless they have opted out.

The measure, which would take effect in 2015, passed 43-8, The Guardian reported.

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Religious groups, including the Muslim Council of Wales and the South Wales Representative Jewish Council, objected. Archbishop Barry Morgan, the highest Anglican official in Wales, said organ donation should be an act of "generosity."

"If organs can be taken unless someone has explicitly registered an objection, that's not an expression of love," he said. "It's more a medical use of a body."

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh health minister, said polls show two-thirds of residents would like to donate their organs but only one-third have registered as donors. He said about one person a week dies in Wales while on a waiting list.

"This is a huge day for Wales, for devolution and, most importantly, for the 226 people in Wales waiting for an organ transplant," Drakeford said. "I am proud that Wales will be the first nation in the U.K. to take this step. As a society, we have shown we are prepared to take action to increase organ donation and to provide hope to those people waiting every week for a transplant."

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The legislation would apply to anyone who has lived in Wales for at least a year. Families would be given the opportunity to show the potential donor would have objected.

Donated organs would be available not just to Welsh residents but to anyone in Britain.

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