Views sought on organ donor opt-out scheme

MSP for Angus North & Mearns, Mairi Evans.

MSP for Angus North & Mearns, Mairi Evans.

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SNP MSP Mairi Evans is urging constituents in Angus North & Mearns to give their views on organ and tissue donation in the Government’s new consultation to help inform policy.

The 14-week consultation looks at various ways to increase the number of people being referred to the donation services in Scotland and the number of times when donation is ‘authorised’ to proceed.

The consultation asks whether the current system for authorising organ and tissue donation should be turned on its head. Currently, in Scotland, organ and/or tissue donation after a person’s death only occurs if they have given advance authorisation or if their nearest relative authorises on their behalf.

A soft opt out, or deemed authorisation, system is being explored; whereby donation can proceed if the person has not opted out or told their family they do not wish to donate.

The study will also look at whether clinicians in Scotland should be given guidance on referring potential donors, so that the possibility of donation can be explored at an earlier opportunity.

Commenting, MSP for Angus North & Mearns, Mairi Evans said: “With the amazing help of donors and their families, NHS Scotland has achieved huge amounts in recent years. Since April this year, there have been 85 organ donations made after death, compared to 60 over the same period last year.

“However, there is more we can do for those who are still waiting for a transplant and it’s essential that we make sure we’re doing all we can.

“The Scottish Government are asking the public whether a ‘soft opt out’ system is preferable to the current system where a person must explicitly opt in to donating. The government are monitoring progress in Wales carefully to learn lessons from their experience of introducing a new opt out system.

“I would encourage as many people as possible in Angus and the Mearns to get involved in this consultation, to help inform and shape the policy on organ and tissue donation. It saves lives and is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.”

Scotland’s Lead Clinician for Organ Donation, Dr Iain Macleod, said: “I welcome this consultation as an opportunity to discuss ways of increasing organ and tissue donation and hear views from a wide range of people.

“As a doctor working in the Intensive Care Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary I know how sensitive and challenging organ donation can be, both for families going through the devastating process of losing a loved one and for NHS staff. However, I also know how important donation is in saving and transforming the lives of hundreds of transplant recipients in Scotland every year and also how much comfort it can give to donors’ families over time to know that their loved one has helped save the lives of others.”