DRAFT proposals for a bill to change Scotland's transplant system have been launched.

Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has signalled her backing for the Evening Times' campaign for an opt-out system by pledging to lodge a Member's Bill calling for the historic change.

If the bill is approved for the first time individuals will have the legal right to remove themselves from a national organ donor register, or they will be deemed to have given consent.

The aim of the change is to increase the number of available organs for life-saving transplants.

Wales, which will introduce an opt-out system in December 2015, expect the change will lead to an increase of around 45 extra donations each year.

The Evening Times joined the Glasgow MSP, doctors' leaders and major charities, including the British Heart Foundation, at a meeting at the Scottish Parliament yesterday to discuss the proposals.

A consultation of MSPs will get under way next month once a final draft of the proposals has been put together, with input from members of the pressure group including the British Medical Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Evening Times.

Politicians will be asked about the proposed legislation, including whether Scotland should allow children over the age of 12 to be involved.

Currently children of that age in Scotland have the right to donate but Wales has set the age barrier for the new system at over 18s.

The soft opt-out system being proposed is favoured by many countries because families would still have some input in the donation process.

If the draft bill gains the support of at least 18 other MSPs from at least half of the parties - and the Scottish Government does not act - Ms McTaggart will have the right to introduce a Member's Bill.

In a further boost for the Evening Times campaign, our petition will be debated by MSPs in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday next week.

The most recent evidence suggests more than 70% of the UK population supports opt-out.

The Scottish Government has said it is waiting for an evaluation of the Welsh system.

David McColgan, policy and public affairs manager for British Heart Foundation Scotland said: "There are around 16 other countries world-wide who have an opt-out system in operation.

"Do we really have to sit and wait when the data is already there?"

Figures show organ donation rates in Scotland have risen by 100% in the past six years.

Ms McTaggart said: "The progress that has been made by the Scottish Government is fantastic and I'd like to thank the Evening Times for raising awareness of this very important issue, but we need to take the next step."

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk