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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Following public consultation, the Scottish Government intends to introduce legislation for a soft opt-out system of organ and tissue donation. This new system aims to increase lifesaving organ transplants. Whilst the current system means a person has to actively opt in to be a donor, the new system assumes a person has agreed to donate their organs, unless they opt out during their lifetime.

Public Health Minister, Aileen Campbell, has confirmed plans to bring forward legislation during this Parliament after 82% of consultation responses supported the move.

Kidney Research UK will continue to support the move and work we already do to increase awareness of organ donation in Scotland. There is an ongoing lack of available kidneys: currently more than 500 people are on the active kidney transplant waiting list in Scotland. Kidney disease is common in Scotland. Around 3.2% of the population have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and countless others are currently undiagnosed. The average waiting time for a kidney transplant across the UK is 1,000 days.

Peter Storey, Director of Communications, said: “At Kidney Research UK we welcome the plans to introduce legislation for a soft opt-out system of organ donation. The fact that 82% of those consulted were in favour of this move demonstrates the widespread support in Scotland, including our supporters who campaigned hard for this change. We also recognise the encouraging progress made by the Scottish Government in increasing organ donation over recent years and are delighted to be working with the Government to encourage organ donation conversations and sign-ups amongst black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Scotland, through our volunteer Peer Educators.

"Deemed authorisation is one of a number of measures that can be taken to save more lives through organ donation. Research is vital and, at Kidney Research UK, we are funding a range of work aimed at making transplanted kidneys work better and last longer, and to enable us to use more kidneys that are donated. There also need to be continued improvements in clinical practice to ensure more donations can take place, and we need to encourage cultural change around this issue so more people talk about their donation wishes with their families.”

Kidney Research UK has a long history of supporting research and collaboration in Scotland, with £9.5 million invested over the last 30 years. This investment is due to the very high quality of research taking place and reflects the charity’s support for fast developing research areas.

Scotland’s innovative renal research promises revolutionary changes to kidney patients’ experiences, whilst our Health Equalities work has encouraged over 400 people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register in Scotland alone.

You can read more about our work in Scotland in our Pioneering Past Report.

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