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Seeking changes to organ donation in Scotland

BMA Scotland has long supported a move to a soft opt out system of organ donation This briefing addresses a number of practical and ethical concerns that have been raised in discussions about a change to the system.

Why change matters

  • More than 530 people in Scotland are waiting for a transplant.
  • In the year to March 2015, 429 people died in the UK while waiting for a transplant.
  • Statistically, more than one in 10 people on the waiting list will die before they get the transplant they need.
  • Over 70% of people support organ donation but less than half of Scotland's population is registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
  • Surveys suggest that around 60% or more of the public support a shift to a soft opt-out system.

Scotland currently operates an opt-in organ donation system where a person has to register their consent to donate their organs in the event of their death.

Under an opt-out system there would be a presumption in favour of consent for organ donation unless a person had registered an objection in advance.

If an objection had not been registered, family members would still be given the opportunity to confirm whether the individual had any unregistered objection, as an extra safeguard, before any procedures went ahead.

Watch our video on seeking change for organ donation


Personal stories in favour of the opt-out system

'I've got to get on and stop expecting that call'

Lisa McGee has end-stage kidney failure and is an extremely difficult match for a transplant. Although she's trying to get on with her life, Ms McGee says a move to an opt-out system would mean more organs would become available for people like her.

Organ donation

Read our consultation submission

Read about how Lisa McGee has been coping since her diagnosis

Gill Hollis: My lung transplant was the most amazing gift

Dr Sue Robertson: People must have the chance to give the gift of life

Watch our video featuring interviews with patients and those who have saved lives through organ transplants

Watch the video