Views sought on opt-out system of organ donation


Proposed legislation which will create an opt-out system for organ donation, that would assume people were in favour of donation unless they have stated otherwise, is currently being examined by the Health and Sport Committee. They have asked people from across Scotland for their view on the proposals.

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill, if passed, would introduce an opt-out system of organ and tissue donation for the purposes of transplantation with a view to increasing the range of circumstances in which deceased organ donation is authorised.

This would mean that deemed authorisation would apply to most adults who have not otherwise explicitly opted in or out of donation via the Organ Donation Register, or who have not otherwise recorded an explicit decision about donation.

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the Health and Sport Committee said:

“There is no doubt that increasing the number of organ donations and having fewer people dying whilst waiting for a transplant is something we all want to see happen. However, this is a complex and difficult issue and there has been much debate and discussion about the most appropriate system for organ donation in Scotland and indeed the rest of the world.

“As this proposed legislation will significantly change the system for organ donation we want to hear from as many people as possible from across Scotland to help inform the Committee’s scrutiny of this important issue.”

The Committee has today issued a call for views from organisations and stakeholders with an interest in organ donation in Scotland.

An online survey which aims to gather views from members of the public on this issue has also been launched. Members of the public are also welcome to submit a formal written view and the Committee would especially like to hear from those with experience of organ donation.

The Committee plans to start taking evidence on this issue in November.


Both the Committee’s survey and formal call for views close on Tuesday 4 September.

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill was introduced on 8 June and if passed the Bill would:

  • Introduce an opt-out system of organ and tissue donation for the purposes of transplantation. Currently organs and tissue can only be donated by people if they authorised donation before they died or if their nearest relative authorises the donation on their behalf (opted-in).
  • Assume people were in favour of donation unless they have stated otherwise.
  • Retain the legal basis for individuals to explicitly opt-in to donation and also provides a legal basis for an explicit opt-out.
  • Ensure family members or others could advise of any objection to donation which the potential donor held.
  • Not apply to people in excepted categories - children under the age of 16, adults who do not have the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of deemed authorisation, or adults resident in Scotland for less than 12 months.
  • Also contain provisions about authorisation for pre-death procedures undertaken in some cases as part of the donation pathway. These are certain medical interventions to help to ensure the patients’ organs are fit for transplantation. These procedures are not in themselves necessary for the care of the patient.

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