New Call for Opt-Out Organ Donation

by Sarah Turnbull

“Three people will die unnecessarily every day in Scotland” said Professor John Forsythe,
lead clinician for NHS Lothian. This is because more than 700 people in Scotland are waiting for an organ transplant.

While 90% of the population in Scotland are in favour of the idea of organ donation, only 37% of people have actually joined the register to become a potential donor.

The Scottish Government has decided to invest money into a television advertising campaign to promote registering as an organ donor.  Some people, though, are calling for a more extreme system to increase organ donation.  Termed an ‘opt-out’ system, this scheme would mean that everyone is automatically added to the Organ Donor Register. In order to remove oneself from this list, a person would be required to notify NHS.

Dundee MSP Joe Fitzpatrick supports this system. He  recently signed a petition to persuade the Scottish Government to change the current system of organ donation to the ‘opt-out’ system. Mr. Fitzpatrick claims “this system is supported by the British Medical Association and major charities including the British Heart Foundation and Kidney Research UK.”

This system has been suggested before and has been met with some controversy.

Scotland has the highest percentage of people donating organs in the UK, with 37% of its population on the register. Forsythe, however, said that this is not enough. “We urgently need more people from across Scotland to join the Organ Donor Register” he said.

It seems the top factor preventing people from joining the register is fear.  According to the NHS, one of most frequently asked questions about organ donation is “how do they know when you are really dead?” The organisation assures people that a doctors confirm the organ donors are dead in exactly the same way as those who are not on the register.