Holyrood Committee backs move to change consent arrangements for organ donation


The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee have expressed their support for a bill which would see Scotland move to an organ donation system with consent to donate presumed unless a person opts out.

Currently members of the public must opt-in for their organs to be donated. The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill changes this approach, meaning in future if a person dies having not registered their decision to agree or refuse on the organ donor register, they will be deemed to have consented to having their organs taken. 

The committee heard evidence from a range of stakeholders and members of the public directly impacted by organ donation before it made its conclusion. They also held evidence sessions with expert witnesses from Wales which changed its own legislation to a similar system in 2015.

During its inquiry the committee heard evidence that although donor numbers had increased since the current law was introduced in 2006, at any one time in Scotland there are over 500 people waiting for a transplant.

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

“It is the committee’s view that moving to a system of consent being presumed is the correct approach and this bill can help to alleviate some existing uncertainties around donation.

“However, it is important to recognise this bill alone will not increase donation rates and the committee have stated a continued awareness raising campaign is required so that people are familiar and comfortable with this change. This will ensure everyone can have confidence in this new approach while engagement should be ongoing and include targeting harder to reach groups.”

He added:

“We have also recommended the Scottish Government look closely at the current infrastructure in hospitals around organ transplantation as well as the checks undertaken before a transplant can proceed.

“The committee also wished to ensure the services available to support patients on the transplant list, recipients of organs and families involved were enhanced to provide greater support.”

The bill will now be debated in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament. 


Watch this short film of Lewis Macdonald MSP at the report’s launch at the Organ Transplant Centre at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary:

You can read the report in full here. 

Learn more about the work of the Health and Sport Committee here.

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