TRANSPLANT patients and charity leaders warned that there would be “substantial” loss of life while changes to Scotland’s organ donor system were delayed.
Figures show around 60 adults and three children die in Scotland each year waiting for a transplant.
Ewan Mclean of the Scottish Kidney Federation, who has been waiting five years for a kidney, said it was a decision he believed the SNP government would come to regret.
He said: “I was very saddened the bill failed and the manner in which it failed.
“I’ve written to the Public Health Secretary Maureen Watt and the SNP.
“I was also very saddened that Ms Watt chose to listen to her appointed experts but completely disreguarded the other experts who gave evidence during the bill process.
“That is a decision they will rue.
“Putting the bill back is going to cost a substantial number of lives. That’s something that can’t be denied.”
Pat Coll, from Glasgow, who waited almost 20 years for a new kidney, said: “This is not a political football to kick around until someone can claim credit, this is people’s lives who could be improved by a change in the law.
“This bill could have gone on to stage 2 where concerns could could have been raised and amendments issued. To claim they are in favour of a soft opt out option is ludicrous while rejecting the opportunity.
“This is yet another example of politics before progression.
“Hopefully this will be a short delay in what has been a fantastic campaign by the Evening Times and Anne McTaggart and I will continue to support.
“I know I am biased as a transplant recipient but I doubt any of the members who rejected the bill have had to experience anything similar to waiting on an organ to prevent them from dying, and I hope they never have to.”
Harry Prentice, 20, from Lanarkshire who received a heart transplant, said the decision had “robbed” those waiting on a transplant of a second chance life.
He said: “I believe all opportunities that increase the chance to save a life should be taken.”
David Raw, a retired headteacher, who received a liver transplant nearly five years ago, said: “As one of the lucky ones, I’m very disappointed with the outcome at Holyrood.
“It was a very close result – a mere three votes - after a marvellous campaign by Anne McTaggart and the Evening Times.
“The momentum is with us. but it’s sad that inevitably people will die because of the delay.
“I don’t understand why the Minister, Maureen Watt, couldn’t have taken over Ms McTaggart’s Bill and amended it as necessary with all the legal and technical support open to a Government. She could have thus cut down any delay.”
Meanwhile, members of the public took to Twitter to make their views known about Tuesday’s vote.
Jane Munro tweeted: “Devastating for people waiting for transplant. Those voting against should visit renal / cardiac unit.”
Terri Smith tweeted: “ There is no price on saving lives and it’s a shame MSPs don’t see it that way.”
Charities in favour of s shift to an ‘soft’ opt-out system expressed disappointment about the vote but said Anne McTaggart’s bill and the Evening Times campaign had “persuaded” the government about the merits of changing organ donation laws.
A spokeswoman for the British Kidney Patient Association said: “It’s disappointing and it was very close. We want to see the most that can be done to increase organ donation.”
Pete Storey, Director of Communicaitons at Kidney Research UK said: “We recognise that many of our supporters in Scotland will be disappointed with the outcome of the debate.
“However, the close result indicates that there is a real need and determination to improve organ donation in Scotland, including a possible move to a workable soft opt-out system, and the debate has done an incredibly important thing in raising the profile of this vital issue.”
James Cant, Director at British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “Yes, it’s disappointing that Anne McTaggart’s Member’s Bill was defeated today but she deserves huge credit. With BHF Scotland’s backing, she has led the debate over organ transplantation for the past two years and kept it in the public eye.
“Thanks to her determination, the Scottish Government has been persuaded by the arguments and now recognises that soft opt-out is a life-saving option that needs to be considered.
“BHF Scotland will continue to press for soft opt-out and we look forward to contributing to the consultation and its outcome.”
A spokeswoman for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: “Anne McTaggart should be proud of her work: her bill has got people talking about organ donation and put the issue high on the political agenda. We are pleased the Scottish Government will pursue this further and hope it wastes no time doing so.”
Dr Sue Robertson, a member of the BMA’s Scottish Council and a kidney doctor in Dumfries, said: “It is disappointing that the Scottish Government is not persuaded to support the general principles of this bill.
“We believe that it could be appropriately amended at stage 2 and passed by the end of this Parliamentary session. “However, we welcome the Government’s commitment to bring forward a consultation on further methods to increase organ donation and transplantation, including opt-out, in the next Parliament.
“ We would urge the Scottish Government to make this work a priority. People are dying whilst waiting for organs, so it essential that swift action is taken.”