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by Tom Freeman
02 June 2015
Organ donation opt-out scheme proposed

Organ donation opt-out scheme proposed

Scotland could adopt a system where organs and tissue can be removed after death unless someone opts out of the scheme, according to a member’s bill launched today by Anne McTaggart MSP.

A survey by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in Scotland this year showed two thirds of Scots support the idea, which would replace the current system in which those wishing to become a donor add their name to the NHS Organ Donation Register. Currently 41 per cent of Scots are registered, the highest percentage in the UK.

To mark the introduction of the bill, McTaggart was joined by several recipients of transplants alongside members of the British Heart Foundation, the British Medical Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the Scottish Kidney Federation and the Scottish Youth Parliament.


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“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,” said McTaggart.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues at the Scottish Parliament and with stakeholders as they look closely at the proposals over the next few months,” she added.

The bill proposes a ‘soft opt-out’ system, in which families of deceased patients would be given a veto on donation if their relative had objected during their lifetime. Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce a ‘soft opt-out’ system in December this year.

David McColgan, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, BHF Scotland, said: “We know that Scotland has the highest registered percentage of organ donors in the UK however what is not commonly told is that Scotland has the second lowest rate of donation after death. One of the major reasons for this is the high rate of family refusal which in 2013/14 was 41 per cent. However when families are aware of the loved ones wishes this plummets to 11 per cent.”

The proposed bill has secured cross-party support with the backing of 40 MSPs. It will now begin the formal three-stage legislative process at the Scottish Parliament.

Picture shows McTaggart with 459 crosses each representing someone who has died this year in the uk in need of an organ

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