I attended an Organ Donation Wales awareness event at ASDA in Pillgwenlly this week.
The event, backed by Public Health Wales, aimed to highlight important changes to organ donation in Wales which come into force next week. From the 1st December onwards if you have not recorded an organ donation decision ('opt-in' or 'opt-out') on the NHS Organ Donation Register, you will be treated as having no objection to donating an organ.
As recently as 2012/13, 36 people died in Wales whilst waiting for an organ donation, as a donor could not be found. The change to an 'opt-out' organ donation system from the 1st December is a ground-breaking step, and one that has the potential to save thousands of lives in future.
It was really interesting to speak to former Wales and Newport Gwent Dragons prop Rhys Thomas at the awareness event in Pill. I remember watching Rhys during his time with the Dragons, and I think the entire rugby public in Wales was shocked and saddened to see an exciting career end so soon due to Rhys' heart problems. He is now one of many people on the waiting list for a heart transplant in Wales, and the countdown to a new opt-out organ donation system offers new hope to thousands like Rhys who are waiting for a transplant.