Proposals for opt-out system of organ donation launched

New laws to establish a system for opting out of organ donation could be considered next year.

Labour MSP Anne McTaggart put her Transplantation (Authorisation of Removal of Organs) Scotland Bill before the Parliament yesterday.

It proposes an opt-out system of organ donation, meaning everyone would be a donor unless they choose to opt-out.

Currently, the system is an opt-in one with potential donors required to join the NHS Organ Donation Register.

Ms McTaggart said she was confident of the bill’s proposals and added she hopes it will be considered before the next Scottish election.

She said: “Three people die each day while waiting for organ transplants and that is just not good enough.

“It shouldn’t be something you only think about when it affects you and your family.”

She added: “There’s still a long way to go in the legislative process but I’m confident that the overwhelming evidence in favour of my proposals will ensure the success of my bill.”

Wales introduced an opt-out policy last year and Northern Ireland is considering one too.

The number of donors in Scotland is the highest in the UK at 41 per cent but is a low figure given as 95 per cent of Scots approve of organ donation.

A British Heart Foundation (BHF) survey found that 62 per cent of Scots supported an opt-out scheme for organ donation.

David McColgan, policy and public affairs manager for BHF Scotland, said: “In Scotland we are used to being seen as pretty progressive yet we are lagging behind on this issue.

“Getting to this stage is brilliant and we are hopeful there is lots of support for it.”

The bill has also been supported by leaders in the medical profession.

Dr Sue Robertson, a member of the British Medical Association’s Scottish council and a renal physician, said: “The BMA has long been a supporter of 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 whole transplant community works tremendously hard to increase the levels of organ donation with significant support from the Scottish government, but there are still people in Scotland waiting for an organ transplant.

“We believe that more can be done and more lives can be saved and this bill represents a positive step towards that goal.”