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Organ donation opt-out bill gains MSP backing in stage 1 report

5 February 2019

Support for the bill to introduce a "presumed consent" organ donation system in Scotland has come from the Scottish Parliament’s Health & Sport Committee in it stage 1 report.

MSPs on the committee agreed to the general principles of the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill, under which if a person dies having not registered their decision to agree or refuse on the organ donor register, they will be deemed in future to have consented to having their organs taken. Currently members of the public must opt-in for their organs to be donated.

The committee heard evidence from a range of stakeholders and members of the public directly impacted by organ donation before it made its conclusion. They also held evidence sessions with expert witnesses from Wales which changed its own legislation to a similar system in 2015.

During their inquiry the MSPs heard evidence that although donor numbers had increased since the current law was introduced in 2006, at any one time in Scotland there are over 500 people waiting for a transplant.

Committee convener Lewis Macdonald MSP commented: "It is the committee’s view that moving to a system of consent being presumed is the correct approach and this bill can help to alleviate some existing uncertainties around donation.

"However, it is important to recognise this bill alone will not increase donation rates and the committee have stated a continued awareness raising campaign is required so that people are familiar and comfortable with this change. This will ensure everyone can have confidence in this new approach, while engagement should be ongoing and include targeting harder-to-reach groups."

The committee also recommends that the Scottish Government look closely at the current infrastructure in hospitals around organ transplantation, as well as the checks undertaken before a transplant can proceed.

Mr Macdonald added: "The committee also wished to ensure the services available to support patients on the transplant list, recipients of organs and families involved were enhanced to provide greater support."

Click here to view the committee's report.


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