MSPs to discuss presumed consent for organ donation

26 February 2019, 06:39

An NHS donor card

MSPs are to be asked to agree the general principles of a bill which presumes consent for organ donation.

The bill, which proposes a "soft opt-out" system of organ and tissue donation, will be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Under current legislation, donors must choose to opt in for their organs to be donated, with many people carrying a donor card.

Under the proposed system if an adult does not proactively opt in or out of donation they may be deemed to have authorised donation for transplantation.

The bill includes safeguards to ensure that donation will not go ahead where it would be clearly against the person's wishes.

MSPs will be asked to agree to the general principles of the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill on Tuesday.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "Organ and tissue donation can be a life-changing gift, and has the power to both save and improve lives.

"In Scotland we have seen tremendous progress over the last decade, with the number of donors, organ and tissue transplants all increasing.

"There has also been a significant increase in the number of people registering their donation decision, with 51% of the Scottish population on the NHS Organ Donor Register - the highest rate of all UK countries.

"However, there are still too many people waiting for transplants, with an average of more than 500 people waiting for an organ transplant at any one point in Scotland.

"That's why we are doing all we can to increase organ and tissue donation, and while no single measure can achieve this, evidence shows that opt-out systems can make a difference as part of a package of measures.

"Families will continue to have an important role in the donation process and will be able to provide information about their loved ones' views. I would encourage people to make a decision about donation and tell their family."

Under the proposed system there will be protections for adults without the capacity to understand deemed authorisation, adults who have lived in Scotland for less than 12 months and children under the age of 16.

Since 2008 in Scotland there has been an 89% increase in the number of people who donated organs after their death, from 54 that year to 102 in 2017/18.