Approval for opt-out organ donation in Scotland

  • Date: 12 June 2019

AN opt-out system for organ and tissue donation has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill legislates for all eligible adults in Scotland over the age of 16 to be added to the NHS Organ Donor Register unless they opt-out. The current system requires adults to opt-in by joining the register.

In a statement Scottish Government confirmed: "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.

"There will be protections for adults without capacity to understand deemed authorisation, adults resident in Scotland for less than 12 months and children under 16 who will not be subject to deemed authorisation and will only be able to donate if they, or someone on their behalf, explicitly authorise it."

Scotland Government will be working with stakeholders to ensure that systems and training for health professionals are in place before the opt-out system is introduced. A public awareness campaign will be launched later this year providing more information.

Dr Sue Robertson, who is a kidney specialist at Dumfries Renal Unit, said: "I wholeheartedly welcome the passing of the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament and I believe that precious lives will be saved as a result of this landmark legislation.

"The BMA has been calling for an opt-out model of organ donation for 20 years and it is great to see that we are now closer to that position.

"At the end of March 2019 there were 581 people in Scotland waiting for life-saving transplants – with the introduction of this new law I am hopeful that more people than ever before will receive the organs they so desperately need."

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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