Scotland’s organ donation ‘opt-out’ law starts in March

box with organ for transplant reading 'handle with care: human organ in transit'Image copyright
NHS Blood and Transplant

Organ donation will become an opt-out system in Scotland in March next year, the Scottish government has announced.

At present, people must “opt in” by registering to donate their organs for transplants after they die.

Under the new law, it will be assumed people are in favour of donation unless they have stated otherwise.

The changes, which only affect people who die in hospital, were meant to come into force this year but were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministers hope the move will save and improve the lives of people waiting for an organ.

Those who do not want their organs to be donated for a transplant will be able to opt out through the Organ Donation Scotland website.

‘Very precious’

The Scottish Parliament passed the legislation in July last year and now public health minister Joe FitzPatrick has announced that the measures will come into effect on 26 March 2021.

He said: “Scotland has made huge strides in increasing transplant rates over the past decade, thanks to the generosity of those who choose to become donors and their families.

“The move to an opt-out system is part of a package of measures to continue to improve transplantation rates – and the lives of those for whom the wait continues.

“Only around 1% of people die in a way that makes organ donation possible, so every opportunity for donation is very precious.”

About 2.6 million people (48% of the Scottish population) are on the NHS organ donor register.

Since a similar law was introduced in Wales in 2015, the organ donation consent rate jumped from 58% to 77%.

BBC News