Human organ donation
A parliamentary debate will take place today giving MSPs the chance to discuss the pros and cons of introducing an 'opt-out' system to increase rates of organ donation.
The Scottish Government 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. I want any potential change in the law to carry the weight of public opinion and to be based on sound evidence, otherwise we run the risk of undermining the high level of public confidence in transplantation.
"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 per cent in five years.
"This will be achieved without changing existing law on organ donation. However, in addition to this, I think it's really important that we consider seriously every potential way of increasing donation rates."
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 per cent of adults in favour.
However, fewer than 1 in 3 Scots (29 per cent) have joined the Organ Donor Register, leaving a desperate shortage of organs.
Ms Sturgeon added:
"Today's hard-hitting campaign is a very powerful weapon in the fight to increase the number of organ donors.
"I hope the emotive stories featured in the TV campaign will encourage Scots to sign up and save a life and discuss the issue of organ donation with their loved ones."
The Taskforce is due to make its recommendations on presumed consent in the summer.
The Taskforce's report of January this year, "Organs for Transplant", made a number of recommendations, including:
- A UK wide organ donation organisation should be established
- A UK-wide network of Organ Retrieval Teams should be set up to ensure timely retrieval of organs
- The current network of donor transplant co-ordinators should be expanded
- All parts of the NHS must embrace organ donation as a usual, not unusual event. Local policies must be put in place and all clinical and nursing staff likely to be involved in organ donation should receive training