Anne McTaggart MSP Seeks Support for Proposed Organ Donation Bill

Anne with supporters of her proposed Bill Margaret McCulloch MSP, David McColgan (BHF), Helen Reilly (BMA), Jim Hume MSP, Gareth Brown (SYP), and Hanzala Malik MSP.

Anne with supporters of her proposed Bill Margaret McCulloch MSP, David McColgan (BHF), Helen Reilly (BMA), Jim Hume MSP, Gareth Brown (SYP), and Hanzala Malik MSP at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 6th January.

Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart is seeking support from fellow MSPs for her proposed Organ Donation (Scotland) Bill.

This follows a four month consultation period during which time 529 individuals and 30 organisations provided their views on the proposed legislation, with 80% of individuals indicating their support for the Bill.

The Bill proposes to amend the current ‘opt-in’ system of organ donation in Scotland, whereby those wishing to become a donor are encouraged to add their name to the NHS Organ Donation Register. The Scottish Government’s own evidence shows that whilst only 5% of the population oppose organ donation in principle, less than 40% of people are registered as organ donors. Ms McTaggart’s proposals would mean that unless an adult had expressed an objection and ‘opted-out’ of the organ donation register, then their organ and tissue could be removed posthumously. In view of the significant difference between the number of people on the waiting list for transplant operations and the number of organs available, Ms McTaggart believes that reform is now essential.

Ms McTaggart will now have a month to gather signatures of support from 18 of her fellow MSPs from at least half of the other parties in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms McTaggart said:

“I’m proud to be able to lodge my proposed Bill today and will now seek to gain support from across the Scottish Parliament for my proposals.

The current system of organ donation has been the subject of much debate for a number of years, due in no small part to the fact that the UK has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe.

The truth is that people just don’t get round to putting their names on the organ donation register, and this results in the deaths of three people every day across the UK. I’ve met too many heartbroken families to let this needless loss of life continue.

For me, it’s important that those who object still have the opportunity to opt-out and I strongly believe that the family should be consulted at the time of death to establish any objection of the deceased that had not been registered.

We know that organ donation rates increase by 25-30% in countries where an opt-out system is introduced. My Bill would help to increase the number of organs available for transplantation, thereby saving lives and improving quality of lives for others. I hope that MSPs of all parties will see this as a valuable opportunity to help save lives and I look forward to receiving broad support for my proposals.”

David McColgan, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at British Heart Foundation Scotland:

“Too many lives are being lost in the current system. To prevent families going through the heartache of losing a loved one, when a donor organ might save them, the law has to change. I also think that change to a soft opt-out system would encourage all of us to speak to our nearest and dearest about our views on organ donation so that our wishes are carried out.”

Louise Cameron MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament:

“A substantial majority of the existing research shows that countries that use a soft opt-out system have hugely increased donor rates which, in turn, save lives.

We strongly support the proposed legislation currently being brought forward by Anne McTaggart MSP and are delighted that the Bill has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament. We will work to ensure that the voices of young people are heard in relation to its development and passage through parliament and we would urge all MSPs to support it.”

Dr Sue Robertson, a member of the BMA’s Scottish Council and a renal physician, said:

“The BMA has long been a supporter of a move to an opt out system of organ donation, not only because we believe that it would have a positive effect on donation rates, but also because it gives added protection to those who do not wish to donate and makes it more likely that those who are willing to donate will be able to do so.

“There has been welcome progress in the number of people signing up to the Organ Donor Register and donation rates, but despite this rise, there are still people in Scotland waiting for an organ transplant.  Some of these people will die while they are waiting, whilst others will have died without even reaching the list. “We believe that more can be done and more lives can be saved.”

All consultation responses and the consultation summary can be read here.

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