Scots organ donations have doubled in six years

The organ donation rate has risen to 20 donations per million people, up from 17.9 per million. Picture: TSPL
The organ donation rate has risen to 20 donations per million people, up from 17.9 per million. Picture: TSPL
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THE number of people who donated their organs after death has almost doubled in the last six years, according to new figures.

The number of people in Scotland who donate their organs after death has almost doubled in the past six years, figures show.

There were 106 deceased organ donors in hospitals across Scotland in 2013-14 – up from 54 in 2007-8. The number of organ transplants carried out in Scotland using organs from deceased ­donors ­increased by 62 per cent, from 211 in 2007-8 to 341 in 2013-14.

One donor can help several people because he or she can donate a number of organs.

The latest figures were welcomed by the Scottish Government, which has been working to try to increase donor ­numbers.

Many campaigners back a move towards presumed ­consent – whereby everyone is considered a potential donor ­unless they opt out – in efforts to ­increase donation rates.

Such a system has so far been rejected by Scottish ministers, who have said they will watch what happens in Wales, where an opt-out system is set to be introduced by the end of next year.

In the meantime, they are taking other steps, such as high-profile campaigns and use of specialist nurses, in efforts to boost the number of donors and reduce the number of deaths of people on the waiting list.

The figures also revealed that there are now 2,110,881 people living in Scotland on the Organ Donor Register – 40 per cent of the population and greater than the 32 per cent UK average. This compares to 1,479,105 on the register in Scotland in 2007 – 29 per cent of the population at the time.

Public health minister Michael Matheson said: “First and foremost I want to offer my thanks to every donor and every donor’s family in Scotland who have demonstrated such kindness and benevolence in the face of tragic and difficult ­circumstances.”

He added: “It is our responsibility to ­ensure that people’s organ ­donation wishes are respected and to ensure that we make every ­donation count.

“Over the past few years we have made important strides in raising awareness of the importance of organ donation in Scotland and have been encouraging more and more people to make their wishes known.

“The staff working in the NHS do a fantastic job of ensuring that those wishes are respected and as a result more and more people are able to get the life-changing transplant they ­require.”

Mr Matheson said it was important to remember that about 600 people in Scotland were still waiting for an organ.

He said: “We must be doing all we can to give them hope. I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to make their organ donation wishes known to their loved ones and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

The figures showed that 38 people died while on the organ transplant list in Scotland in 2013-14, compared to 67 in ­2007-8. The Scottish Government aims to increase deceased

donation rates to 26 per million of the population by 2020.

This figure currently stands at 20 per million of population, up from 17.9 in 2012-13.

Dr Sue Robertson, a renal physician and member of the British Medical Association’s Scottish Council, welcomed the figures but said more could still be done to reduce deaths on the organ waiting list.

She added: “The BMA believes that a change to an opt-out system for organ donation would help to increase the number of organs available.

“This would make donation the default position from which people may opt out during

their lifetime if they choose to do so. Given the exceptionally high level of support for donation, this is simply making it easier for people to achieve their wish to donate.”