Opt-out system for organ donation gets go-ahead

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Human Tissue law passes Stage 3.

Legislation to introduce an opt-out system of organ and tissue donation for deceased donors has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill was introduced in June 2018 to add to existing measures aimed at increasing the number of successful donations in Scotland. International evidence suggests that opt-out legislation can lead to increases as part of a package of measures.

Under the new law, if an adult does not opt-in or opt-out of donation they may be deemed to have authorised donation for transplantation. This is subject to the safeguards in the Bill which seek to ensure that donation will not go ahead where it would be against the person’s wishes.

The Scottish Government will be working with stakeholders to ensure that systems and training for health professionals are in place before opt-out is introduced. A public awareness campaign, launching later this year, will provide more information about what the changes mean and what choices people will have.

Speaking after the vote, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“Organ and tissue donation can be a life-changing gift. Evidence shows that opt-out systems can make a difference as part of a wider package of measures and this Bill provides further opportunities to both save and improve lives.

“We have worked closely with key stakeholders in the NHS to ensure that the system which is introduced is workable and I would like to thank them for their considerable input in this new law. We will continue to work with them as we prepare for the introduction of opt-out to ensure this legislation is implemented effectively and helps to save and improve lives.

“The new opt-out system will add to the package of measures already in place which have led to significant increases in donation and transplantation over the last decade.

“However, in Scotland there are an average of more than 500 people waiting for an organ transplant at any one time so it’s important that we do all we can to improve the lives of those on the waiting list.

“I would encourage people to continue to make a decision about donation and discuss it with their family.”

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