New regime on organ donation comes into force next year

Adults who do not opt in or out of organ donation could in future be deemed to have given the go-ahead for organ transplantation.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 19th July 2019, 12:30 pm
Public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick.
Public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick.

New laws on organ and tissue donation for deceased donors come into force in autumn next year, adding to measures already in place that are said to have led to significant increases in donation and transplants over the last ten years.

The new rules will follow a public awareness campaign that aims to explain the choices open to people.

Adults who don’t express a preferrence could be seen as having authorised donation, but the Scottish Government says this will be subject to various safeguards - donation would not go ahead where it was against the person’s wishes.

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Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Organ and tissue donation can be a life-changing gift.

“Evidence shows that opt-out systems can make a difference as part of a wider package of measures, and this Act provides further opportunities to both save and improve lives.

“We will continue to work with key stakeholders and the NHS as we prepare for the introduction of opt-out in Autumn 2020 to ensure this legislation is implemented effectively.

“In Scotland there are an average of more than 500 people waiting for an organ transplant at any one time so it’s important that we do all we can to improve the lives of those on the waiting list.

“I would encourage people to continue to make a decision about donation, record this on the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss it with their family.”

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament on June 8 2018 and passed by Parliament in June 2019, and will become law in autumn next year.

Less than one per cent of people die in circumstances that enable organ donation to proceed, as a potential donor usually has to be in an intensive care unit and there may be medical reasons that mean organs are unsuitable for transplantation.