On October 18th, Vale of Glamorgan AM Jane Hutt hosted the launch of The Rhodri Morgan Life Ethics Fellowship, in memory of the work of former First Minister of Wales Rhodri Morgan. Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce an ‘opt out’ system for organ donation.
Funded by Kidney Wales, with the College of Human and Health Sciences of Swansea University and Wales Kidney Research Unit, the Fellowship offers an opportunity to investigate ethics involving paediatric organ donation, transplantation and dialysis. It is open to anyone living or working in Wales, and offers an opportunity to travel to regions such as North America and South Africa.
‘The Fellowship is a wonderful way to remember Rhodri and his commitment to organ donation. He was a Patron of Kidney Wales, and attended the Cardiff Walk for Life and many Kidney Wales events as an MP and an AM. He took a great interest in the law on deemed consent.
‘It is important to reflect that back in those early days, we were constantly being challenged about the proposed legislation. There was much debate and scrutiny of the Bill, but in that process hearts and minds were changed. As Wales prepares to mark two years of deemed consent, it is encouraging to see that England is keen to follow our lead. I am sure this new fellowship will see Wales again lead the UK in innovative ideas and legislation in the area of organ donation.
‘Organ donors provide an important gift to many people, who without their help would not have had the chance to live a full and healthy life. That is why I am glad that Colin and Betty Burgess from Barry, in my constituency, who have been personally involved in organ donation, have been able to join us today . They have been allies of ours throughout the organ donation debate in Wales.’
Prof Roy Thomas of Kidney Wales said: ‘We are delighted to be launching this Fellowship. The discussions on organ donation were the largest bioethical debates in the UK. Devolution provided an opportunity for Welsh people from the Church to the Media to discuss life ethics. This Fellowship in Rhodri’s name allows us to continue important ethical debates.’