MSP Calls For Urgency Behind Organ Donation Change

Scotland cannot afford to wait to introduce a new system for organ donation, the MSP behind a Bill to bring in a "soft opt-out'' approach has said.

Anne McTaggart claims such a change could see the number of organs available for transplant operations increasing by up to 30%.

That "astonishing figure'' could give hope to all those on organ waiting lists, she added.

The Labour MSP has put forward a member's bill which, if passed, would allow for organs and tissues to be removed from an adult after death if they had not registered or expressed an objection during their lifetime.

Families would also be consulted on the death of a loved one to establish any objection that had not been registered.

MSPs on the Health Committee have been scrutinising the changes and are due to question public health minister Maureen Watt on Tuesday.

Ms McTaggart, who will also address the committee, said: "The bottom line is that people are needlessly dying because of the lack of available organs for transplant. A simple change to the current law could save these lives.

"I'm looking forward to presenting the positive case for change to the committee and I'd like to thank them for taking the time to consider this important piece of legislation.''

Ms McTaggart stated: "I strongly believe that moving to a 'soft opt-out' system is required if we are to address the problems we have with organ donation in Scotland.

"The available evidence suggests that this move could lead to an increase in donation rates of 25%-30%. Taking the most recent figures, this could mean an increase of between 24 and 29 donors per year.

"That's an astonishing figure that gives hope to those in need of a transplant.

"While I have applauded the work the Scottish Government has done in increasing the number of people registered on the organ donation register in Scotland in recent years, the truth is that we are now the worst-performing part of the UK in terms of donation rates.

"The Government have said in their evidence that they want to wait to evaluate the impact of the Welsh legislation before they decide whether or not to implement 'soft opt-out'.

"I say that while people are dying, we can't afford to wait.

"When SNP MSP Humza Yousaf tabled a motion supporting an opt-out scheme in 2011, it received cross-party support, including support from 37 SNP MSPs. I hope their support remains in the coming days, weeks and months.''

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "In Scotland we've delivered a number of measures to increase donation. Since 2008 we have seen an 82% increase in the number of deceased organ donors in Scotland; a 42% increase in the number of transplants undertaken; and a 21% reduction in the active transplant waiting list. 42% of Scots are signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register - the highest percentage of any of the four UK countries.

"We're very supportive of measures to increase organ availability, and keen to work on a consensual basis to increase organ donation. However, we do have some significant concerns with the current legislation and will set these out in detail as it moves through the parliamentary process.

"We have concerns that the proposals around authorised investigating persons (AIPs) and proxies will add significant complexity into the donation pathway, and will actually lead to potential donors being lost. We also have concerns that provisions in relation to adults with incapacity may make it difficult for such adults, or their relatives, to opt out, leaving them 'locked in' to donation.''

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