Welsh chief puts opt-out campaign in spotlight at Holyrood

THE Evening Times' campaign for an opt-out system on organs donation is back in the spotlight at the Scottish Parliament.

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More than 700 people in Scotland are waiting on a kidney transplant and Mark Drakeford, inset, will explain the new opt-out donation laws in Wales
More than 700 people in Scotland are waiting on a kidney transplant and Mark Drakeford, inset, will explain the new opt-out donation laws in Wales

Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford will be giving evidence tomorrow to the Petitions Committee about his country's new transplant system.

Wales is preparing to switch to an opt-out system of organ donation, which will come into force on December 1 next year. The Welsh Assembly hopes the legislation will lead to a 25% rise in the number of donors.

Mr Drakeford will discuss the new system with a panel of MSPs, who are debating the Evening Times' petition for a similar change in the law in Scotland.

The Evening Times' award-winning Opt for Life campaign was launched in October 2011, calling for Scotland to change to a system of presumed consent for organ donation. Those who do not wish to have their organs donated have to opt out.

Our campaign has been backed by more than half of MSPs and Glasgow Labour MSP Ann McTaggart, who sits on the Petitions Committee, has promised to raise a Members' Bill if the Parliament does not act.

Major charities, including the British Heart Foundation, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Kidney Research UK, as well as the British Medical Association, have also backed our campaign.

Mr Drakeford will give evidence to MSPs by video conference.

Last year more than 1300 people across the UK waiting for a new kidney either died or became too sick to undergo a transplant.

Peter Storey, of Kidney Research UK, said: "We support a 'soft' system of presumed consent, where patients have the choice to opt out of becoming organ donors, and where relatives would still be consulted at the time of donation.

"We welcomed the decision made by the Welsh Assembly to introduce an opt-out system, and hope Scotland will carefully consider adopting a similar approach.

"One person a day dies waiting for a kidney in the UK, and more than 700 people in Scotland are waiting for a kidney transplant. These figures show exactly why it is vital we increase donation rates."

The first phase of a public information campaign outlining how the Welsh system will work was launched last month.

Under the legislation, people over 18 who have been a resident in Wales for more than a year will have to put in place a clear indication of their wish not to donate their organs for them to be excluded from donation after death, otherwise their consent will be deemed to have been given.

People can continue to opt in, opt out under a new "opt-out" register, or choose not to act and be deemed to have given their consent.

Northern Ireland's Health Minister Edwin Poots has also launched a public awareness campaign and further consultation on a possible change to an opt-out transplant system in Ulster.

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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