ONE of Gwent’s oldest councillors has stated his support for organ donation in Wales, revealing himself as a full donor.
Leon Gardiner, Argoed councillor for Caerphilly County Borough Council, has pledged his support following the launch of a new appeal called It’s About Time, aimed at raising awareness ahead of a law change next year.
Mr Gardiner said: “I donated 82 pints of blood until I had to stop when I was 70-years-old.
“I’m a full organ donor. I’ve even chosen to donate my eyes. “ New organ donation legislation comes into force in Wales on December 1, 2015. It is hoped the law will increase the number of organ donors through a soft opt-out system for consent.
Under the new system an individual will become a donor by either registering a decision to opt in or by doing nothing at all, in which case their consent may be deemed. Alternately, an individual can opt-out.
“I’m a big believer in it. I think what we are doing in terms of the new law is absolutely wonderful. I completely support it, “said the Labour councillor.
Mr Gardiner, who is on Caerphilly Council’s health, social care and well being scrutiny committee, went on to say people often take the free donation service for granted in this country.
The 80-year-old said: “We do take it for granted in this country.
“But I promote it and I tell all the boys at the rugby clubs. It’s so easy, you just go along have a nice cup of coffee and a chat with the staff and you’re done.”
In 2012, 35 people died in Wales waiting for an organ donation. Mr Gardiner, who was giving blood for over 30 years, said: “It’s a must.”
Mark Drakeford, Welsh Government Health Minister, said: “In Wales, over 250 lives are ‘on a clock’ waiting for an organ donor, living in the hope that time does not run out for them and a donor is found. We are changing the law to help people on the donor waiting list.
You can register as a donor on the existing register by filling in a form online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk