A LEADING liver physician and heart charity have backed a Labour MSP’s bid to make everyone in Scotland an organ donor unless they opt-out.
Glasgow MSP Anne McTaggart will today seek support from fellow MSPs for her proposed Organ Donation (Scotland) Member’s Bill.
The Bill proposes to amend the current “opt-in” system of organ donation in Scotland, whereby those wishing to become a donor are encouraged to add their name to the NHS organ donation register.
The UK has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe and while only 5% of the population oppose organ donation in principle, less than 40% of people are registered as organ donors, according to Scottish Government research.
Ms McTaggart’s proposals would mean that unless an adult had expressed an objection and ‘opted-out’ of the organ donation register, then their organ and tissue could be removed posthumously.
She said: “The truth is that people just don’t get round to putting their names on the organ donation register, and this results in the deaths of three people every day across the UK.
“I’ve met too many heartbroken families to let this needless loss of life continue.
“For me, it’s important that those who object still have the opportunity to opt-out and I strongly believe that the family should be consulted at the time of death to establish any objection of the deceased that had not been registered.
“We know that organ donation rates increase by 25-30% in countries where an opt-out system is introduced.
“My Bill would help to increase the number of organs available for transplantation, thereby saving lives and improving quality of lives for others. I hope that MSPs of all parties will see this as a valuable opportunity to help save lives and I look forward to receiving broad support for my proposals.”
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Dr Sue Robertson, a member of the BMA’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.
“There has been welcome progress in the number of people signing up to the Organ Donor Register and donation rates, but despite this rise, there are still people in Scotland waiting for an organ transplant. Some of these people will die while they are waiting, whilst others will have died without even reaching the list. We believe that more can be done and more lives can be saved.”
David McColgan, policy and public affairs manager at British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “Too many lives are being lost in the current system.
“To prevent families going through the heartache of losing a loved one, when a donor organ might save them, the law has to change. I also think that change to a soft opt-out system would encourage all of us to speak to our nearest and dearest about our views on organ donation so that our wishes are carried out.”
Louise Cameron MSYP, chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: “A substantial majority of the existing research shows that countries that use a soft opt-out system have hugely increased donor rates which, in turn, save lives.
“We strongly support the proposed legislation currently being brought forward by Anne McTaggart MSP and are delighted that the Bill has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament.
“We will work to ensure that the voices of young people are heard in relation to its development and passage through parliament and we would urge all MSPs to support it.”
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