New bill introduces soft opt out for organ donation



Aileen Campbell

Scotland would move to a soft opt out system for organ and tissue donation under legislation introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill will change organ and tissue donation from the current ‘opt in’ system to an ‘opt out’ system. Under the proposed system, if someone has not stated a decision about donation, they may be deemed as having authorised it.

The bill contains safeguards to ensure people’s wishes regarding donation are followed and that families will be asked about their loved one’s views to ensure donations don’t occur where the person would not have wished it.

The move to an opt out system received 82 per cent support from respondents in a public consultation in 2017. It will add to measures that have contributed towards improvements in organ donation over the last decade in Scotland, which has seen an 89 per cent increase in the number of deceased organ donors and a 78 per cent increase in organ transplants.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell said: “We need to do all we can to further reduce the number of people in Scotland waiting for transplants. We have made significant progress over the past decade, and moving to an opt out system will be part of driving a long term change in attitudes towards organ and tissue donation.

“Organ and tissue donation is an incredible gift. Importantly, under the proposed system, people will still be able to make a choice about donation as they can now and there are safeguards to ensure their wishes are followed. I would encourage people to continue to make a decision about donation and to tell their family.

“Organ donation can only occur in tragic circumstances, and every donor, supported by their family, makes a selfless decision that can save other people’s lives.”



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