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Scottish MPs to debate organ 'opt-out' system

Health and Wellbeing secertary supports presumed consent

OnMedica Staff

Wednesday, 05 March 2008

The Scottish Government will today debate the pros and cons of an "opt-out" system to increase rates of organ donation.

The parliamentary debate will discuss the recommendations of the Organ Donation Task Force and raise the issue of presumed consent for organ donation - a system whereby people are placed on the organ donor register unless they specifically state otherwise.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the debate and said she is sympathetic to introducing presumed consent, which the UK Organ Donation Taskforce is currently considering.

Today's debate coincides with the launch of Scotland's first television advertising campaign urging people to sign up to the organ donor register.

Ms Sturgeon said: "MSPs having the chance today to debate this issue is a really important step in the public discussion currently taking place across Scotland on whether to introduce a system of presumed consent.

"It is a standpoint that I am increasingly sympathetic to, but I recognise others have different opinions on this very emotive subject and today will provide the opportunity to fully explore these.

"There is a desperate shortage of organs for transplant and we are determined to tackle this. That is why the Scottish Government is implementing the recommendations from the Organ Donation Taskforce's report of earlier this year to increase the rate of organ donation by 50% in five years."

From today, the TV advert will run across four Scottish TV channels every day for the rest of March. It is coupled with a series of one minute programmes featuring people talking about how organ donation and transplantation have affected their lives.

Recent research shows huge support for organ donation in Scotland, with around 93% of adults in favour.

However, fewer than one in three Scots (29%) have joined the Organ Donor Register, leaving a desperate shortage of organs.

The Taskforce is due to make its recommendations on presumed consent in the summer.

Click here to watch the TV advert.

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