We need a new organ donation law and quickly

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Young Luis Goncalves was anything but daunted when wrote a speech for MPs in the House of Commons and his heartfelt words are worth repeating.

As we report on page 21 today, the nine-year-old from Gosport wrote: ‘Some don’t have a mum or dad who can give them a kidney and some of these children have to wait as long as five years. I know what it was like to wait for a year. It was no fun at all.’

Luis knows what he is talking about for he has received a kidney from his father Ed, who gave the speech for him yesterday.

The pair of them appeared at Westminster as part of their campaign to persuade more people to go onto the organ donor register.

It came in National Transplant Week, a week in which The News was given dramatic access to a kidney transplant operation in which one sister donated the organ to her sister. It highlighted the desperate need for more people to agree to donate their organs.

It is also the week Wales became the first nation in the UK to give the go-ahead to an opt-out system for organ donation in which consent is presumed unless you actively say no.

That decision must be seen within the context of the organ donation crisis facing the UK.

Two-thirds of people say they wish to donate organs after their death, but only 31 per cent have got round to registering. An opt-out system has the potential to close that gap.

With the number of people needing transplants rising by eight per cent every year and three people dying every day while waiting, we need a dramatic change of course if lives are to be saved.

Several European countries already have an opt-out system, led by countries such as Spain which currently performs more than double the number of transplants per year than the UK.

Overall, in countries with presumed consent it is estimated organ donation is 25 to 35 per cent higher.

Behind these statistics are real men, women and children whose deaths have been averted through transplants. Perhaps now is the time for us follow Wales’s example.

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