Former Scotland international rugby hero Scott Hastings has backed proposals to introduce a ‘soft opt-out’ system of organ donation in Scotland.
He met with Scottish Labour MSP Anne McTaggart in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 10th March, where he spoke of his desire to see the current ‘opt-in’ system of donation move to a ‘soft opt-out’ system in an effort to address the chronic lack of organs available for transplant in Scotland.
Ms McTaggart’s proposals would mean that unless an adult had expressed an objection and ‘opted-out’ of the organ donation register, then their organs and tissue could be removed posthumously.
Scott, who was capped 65 times by his country and played for the British and Irish Lions, understands all too well the difficulties that those on the transplant waiting list face. His close friend, and former and former Watsonian Rugby team mate Iain Leslie, has been waiting a number of years for a kidney transplant without a successful match being found to date.
In view of the significant difference between the number of people on the waiting list for transplant operations and the number of organs available, Scott believes that reform is now essential.
Mr Hastings said “I was delighted to be able to meet with Anne and offer my support for her proposed Organ and Tissue Donation (Scotland) Bill.
“I’m aware that the number of people on the NHS organ donation register has steadily increased over recent years after concerted public awareness campaigns which is excellent. However, I was surprised to learn that, despite this, only 41% of Scots are on the organ donation register while 95% agree with organ donation in principle. Meanwhile, 38 people died in Scotland in 2013/14 alone as a result of a lack of available organs for transplant.
“For me, this shows that we need an urgent change of approach if we are to address the gap between supply and demand, and I agree with Anne that introducing a soft opt-out system is the best way forward.
“Organ Donation is a remarkable human gift that has the ability to ease pain and suffering, and I strongly believe that the available evidence shows that Anne’s proposed bill will help increase donation rates and save lives and that’s why I’m proud to support it.”
Anne McTaggart MSP said “It’s great to have Scott’s support for my proposals. He is a Scottish sporting legend and sadly from his own personal experience knows how difficult it can be for individuals and their families who are waiting for a transplant. Having recently received cross-party support for my proposals, I’m looking forward to introducing my proposed bill to parliament and presenting the strong evidence in favour of a change to my fellow MSPs.”