IT could take another 13 years to address organ donor shortages without a change to Scotland's transplant system, charity leaders have warned.


The British Heart Foundation has estimated how long it could take to achieve the increase in donation rates that could be expected under an opt-out transplant system, where everyone is considered a donor.

The charity said two thirds of eligible donations do not currently take place and that a change to an automatic donor system would help address the problem.

In December this year, Wales will become the first part of the UK to move to an opt-out system. They estimate that the change could lead to an extra 45 transplants each year.

More than 600 people in Scotland are currently waiting for a transplant. While Scotland boasts the highest donor registration rates (41%) more than half of Scots are still not signed up despite evidence showing up to 90% are in favour.

The British Heart Foundation is backing Glasgow MSP Anne McTaggart's Organ Donation (Scotland) Member's Bill, which was launched yesterday at the Scottish Parliament after a four-month consultation.

In total, 559 responses were received including 30 from organisations including charities and churches with 80% of individuals in favour of the proposals.

More than 50% of individuals and four organisations described the change as "essential".

The BMA said the change should form an "integral" part of an overall package of improvements.

The Royal College of Physicians said that in 50% of cases, families refused consent for organ donation because the deceased was not on the organ donor register. Under an opt-out system, it said, families would be more more likely to know there loved one's wishes.

Responses from the public included: ""It is clear that too many people just haven't got round to adding their name to the register. It is sensible and progressive to move to a system that can deliver these organs while respecting the rights of those who wouldn't want to donate after death. The proposed Bill clearly meets these two requirements."

"This method would encourage people who want to opt-out to do so, possibly leading to more organ donations."

The majority of individuals (64%) agreed with limiting consultation with the family to situations where the deceased's wishes are unknown. However those respondents still believed it was essential to maintain a role for the family in the decision making process.

The Scottish Youth Parliament said that if a young person makes the decision to register as an organ donor, their family should not be able to overturn that choice.

The majority (67%) of individuals agreed that the age limit for an opt-out system should be set at 16.

The British Transplantation Society and the Church of Scotland called for an information campaign of at least a year before the change is introduced.