South Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish has welcomed the launch of a consultation on proposals to change the system of organ donation registration in Scotland.
The proposals, being taken forward by Labour MSP, Anne McTaggart, would see a shift from the current ‘opt-in’ system to a ‘soft opt-out’ system.
Under the current system, those who wish to be organ donors are encouraged to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation Register although they can express their consent in other ways.
Under the soft opt-out system, consent would be presumed unless an individual has registered or expressed an objection to becoming a donor.
Research work undertaken by the Scottish Government has suggested that only 5% of the population oppose organ donation in principle. Despite this broad support only 40% of the Scottish population is currently on the organ donor register. Research has suggested that a shift to an opt-out system could increase this by approximately 25-30%.
Research by the NHS Blood and Transplant Service estimated that around 1,000 people die every year in the UK while waiting for a transplant.
Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Claudia Beamish MSP said: “At any one time, hundreds of people across the Scotland are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. However, despite the overwhelming support in principle, less than half of us are on the register.
“The number of Scots on the registering has increased in recent years and while this is welcome we still have too many people on waiting lists and too many organs not used, even where the individual would have wished to be a donor.
“These proposals would make a positive difference, saving lives and helping to ensure people’s wishes are respected, while providing safeguards to allow those with an objection to opt out. They have the support of the British Heart Foundation and the BMA among other organisations.
“This is of course a sensitive matter for individuals and families but I believe that the time is right to look at a move to an opt-out system. I hope that people will take the time to make their views known.
“While I hope that these proposals will become law, I would continue to encourage people who would like to consent to organ donation to talk about it with their family and sign up to the register. I signed up to the register and it is a really straightforward process.”
The consultation on the Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill can be accessed from the following link and responses will be accepted until 5pm on 25 September 2014.
People can sign up to the Organ Donor Register online at www.organdonationscotland.org or by calling 03001232323.