MSPs vote to keep alive opt-out donor law bid

MSPs have signalled their continued support for our campaign to change Scotland's transplant laws.

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Caroline Wilson with the petition that was praised by committee convener David Stewart
Caroline Wilson with the petition that was praised by committee convener David Stewart

A committee voted yesterday to continue our petition for a change to an opt-out system of organ donation until the results of a UK-wide taskforce review are known. The recommendations of the five-year review are expected to be published in April.

The Scottish Government will then be expected to decide which route it wants to take to increase donation rates.

Currently more than half of the Scottish public is not on the organ donor register.

The Evening Times is calling on the government to follow the lead of Wales and Northern Ireland and launch a consultation on the issue. Under an opt-out system, everyone is considered to be a donor but the right to say no is respected. Relatives are also consulted under the favoured 'soft' opt-out approach.

Public petitions committee convener David Stewart MSP praised the Evening Times for a "first-class petition".

The BMA in Scotland welcomed the continuing of the petition, saying organ donation had "not yet reached its full life-saving potential."

Our petition received 14 responses from transplant groups and health boards including NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Ayrshire and Arran, Tayside, Orkney, Western Isles and Fife.

NHS Blood and Transplant said it would support "any approach" which helps drive up numbers on the register. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the change would depend on the level of support from the public.

In 2008 the Scottish Government was given a target to increase organ donation rates by 50%, which it has achieved. However 600 people in Scotland are currently waiting for a transplant.

Mr Stewart said: "I think all members will agree that this was a first-class petition and the Evening Times has done a great job in raising awareness about the petition. It makes sense to get these guidelines before we make a decision."

Dr Sue Robertson, a renal physician and member of the BMA's Scottish Council, said: "We are delighted that the petitions committee has agreed to continue to consider the Evening Times petition. Organ transplantation is an area that has seen amazing medical achievements.

"Now is the time for a serious debate about moving to opt-out. All the time we waste now means that more lives will be lost.

"It is important that an individual's views on organ donation are taken into account after their death. A 'soft' opt-out system would better reflect the views of the Scottish people."

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