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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Call for opt-out organ donation

This news post is over 7 years old

Change to opt-out system will save lives

Health charities are backing a call for radical change to the organ donor system in Scotland.

Glasgow MSP Anne McTaggart’s proposed organ and tissue donation (Scotland) bill would change the current opt-in system to an opt-out version.

This would mean that, unless a person expressly states they do not want to donate their organs in the event of their death, or their family was aware of any objection, the default position would be to donate.

Following the launch of a consultation McTaggart said: “I truly believe that the strong evidence in favour of reform will secure broad support for my proposal to adopt an opt-out system of organ donation in Scotland.

“With this reform we could seriously tackle the shortage of organs available for transplant in Scotland which would ultimately save lives.”

With this reform we could seriously tackle the shortage of organs available for transplant in Scotland which would ultimately save lives

There are currently 7,000 people in the UK on a waiting list for a transplant and McTaggart’s proposals are backed by British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland, the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland and the British Liver Trust.

Marjory Burns, director of BHF Scotland, said: “Every day, lives are lost because there are simply not enough donor organs available. This consultation will give everyone an opportunity to discuss this vitally important issue and share their views about the system they would like to see in Scotland and we would urge people to get involved and support this proposal.”

Dr Sue Robertson, from the BMA’s Scottish Council, said: “The BMA has long supported a move to an opt-out system of organ donation, not only because we believe that it would have a positive effect on donation rates, but also because it gives added protection to those who do not wish to donate and makes it more likely that those who are willing to donate will be able to do so.”

The proposal is also supported by the Scottish Youth Parliament, whose chair, Kyle Thornton, added: “We are delighted that these proposals have been brought forward and we very much hope that the Scottish Parliament passes this important bill, recognising the significant impact it could have.”

Also supporting the consultation are the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, South East of Scotland Kidney Patients’ Association, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Scottish Kidney Federation.



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Christine MacLeod
over 7 years ago
I hope this bill fails. It is unethical to take organs without full authorisation. It is also naive to assume that simply collecting more organs will lead to more actual successful transplants: the reality is that the whole system could become unsafe. Information from other countries shows that opting out does not necessarily mean better transplant rates. The example of Spain is worth looking at: their opt out system made no difference at all, it was 10 years after its introduction that rates increased following a public information campaign. Let's work on the successful increase in Scotland already seen as a result of the hard work of the specialist nurses and ITU staff. What we really need is better logistics on the ground to prevent suitable organs being lost due to organisational and transport problems.