MSPs back Evening Times' Opt for Life organ-donation campaign

THE campaign to save more lives through changing the law on organ donation won a victory as MSPs backed the Evening Times petition.

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MSPs back our Opt-Out campaign
MSPs back our Opt-Out campaign

Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee agreed to pursue the issue and will write to the Scottish Government, health boards and transplant experts to get more evidence on how changing to an opt-out system would prevent people dying on waiting lists.

Committee convener David Stewart said the petition was one of the best he had seen and praised the paper's Opt For Life campaign as an example for others to follow.

Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee agreed to pursue the issue and will write to the Scottish Government, health boards and transplant experts to get more evidence on how changing to an opt-out system would prevent people dying on waiting lists.

Committee convener David Stewart said the petition was one of the best he had seen and praised the paper's Opt For Life campaign as an example for others to follow.

Evening Times Editor Tony Carlin and health reporter Caroline Wilson gave evidence to the MSPs and answered the questions on the merits and benefits of an opt-out system.

MSPs asked a series of questions, including: why the paper launched the campaign, the levels of support and why the current donor registration system was not sufficient?

Mr Carlin said: "We have run many campaigns on health. I am passionate about health and improving Glasgow's life expectancy figures. Health campaigns don't sell papers, this is about social responsibility in Glasgow.

"Within existing legislation the Scottish Government has done an excellent job increasing donors.

"Despite campaigns by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to increase registration, the numbers in the west of Scotland are disappointing. We believe opt out will make it better."

Ms Wilson spelled out to the MSPs why it was necessary and revealed the level of public support for change.

She said: "Support for organ donation is 90% but only 40% of people are on the register. People are dying from apathy."

She added: "How long do we wait for the numbers to rise on the opt-in register? It could be decades."

Deputy convener Chic Brodie said: "It is a laudable campaign."

He also wants to learn lessons from other countries and about any difficulties that could arise.

Mr Stewart said: "It is clearly something every right-thinking person would want to support.

"I hope other newspapers take a leaf out of your book. It is one of the best petitions I have heard in my time as convener."

He said the committee would take evidence from the Scottish Government, the BMA and the Transplant Association.

John Wilson, West of Scotland SNP MSP, said they should contact health boards in Glasgow and Lothians to discuss their efforts at increasing the register.

Jackie Baillie said: "I commend the Evening Times for the campaign. It is a measure of how remarkable journalism can be a force for good.

"Hundreds of people are currently waiting for organ donation. The committee can do a power of good by encouraging the Scottish Government to legislate.

"It is a change but it is a small change that will make a big difference."

stewart.paterson@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

JACKIE BAILLIE

Health

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