BMA Scotland is delighted to hear recently that the number of Scots donating organs has increased by 74 per cent. The whole transplant community has worked tremendously hard to achieve this with significant support from the Scottish Government.
However, more than 600 patients are still on the transplant waiting list in Scotland; sadly, some of them will die while they are waiting while others will have died without even reaching the waiting list.
Meanwhile, repeated studies show that up to 90 per cent of the population supports organ donation, yet only 41 per cent of us have signed up to the organ donor register. It’s time for us as a society to decide if we have done all we can or if there is something more we can do to further increase these numbers.
As long as there are patients waiting for transplants, the BMA believes that a soft opt-out system, as part of the overall package to increase donation, would save more lives. Unless an individual had registered an objection to donating their organs, or their family was aware of any objection, the default position would be to donate.
Creating this kind of system would allow the wishes of the individual to be taken into account and would increase further the number of organs available for transplant.
Now is the time for a serious debate about moving to opt-out.
Dr Sue Robertson, member, Scottish Council of the BMA