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New opt out organ donation law begins in Scotland

26 March 2021

Scotland’s organ and tissue donation law changes to an opt out system from today (26 March 2021)This means people are assumed to be potential organ donors after they die, rather than having to sign the register, or opt in, to be a donor. 

This opt out systemalso called deemed consent or presumed consent, means people need to sign the opt out register if they do not wish to donate their organs when they die. Most people over 16 living in Scotland will be affected by the new law, but some groups will be excluded. 

Scottish Flag Pixabay copyright free

Saving lives

Kidney Research UK’s peer educator programme has been supporting the Scottish Government to increase awareness around organ donation among ethnic minority communities, who may be harder to reach or have questions they would like to ask.

One of our peer educators, Nilah Ulhaq from Edinburgh, features in an advert explaining the law change, which will be heard on radio stations over the next two months.

“Around 500 people are waiting for an organ transplant at any one time in Scotland, and many people sadly die waiting,” said Bushra Riaz, peer educator coordinator for Kidney Research UK in Scotland.

“This law change is very welcome. We hope the opt out system will enable more organs to be used for transplant, help reduce the time people wait and save more lives.”

“The opt out system still allows people to choose whether or not you want to be an organ and tissue donor,” she continues. “Simply register your decision and tell your family. Your faith, beliefs and culture will always be honoured.”

The situation across the UK

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 means Scotland now follows Wales and England, where the opt out system is already in place.

In Northern Ireland, Robin Swann, the Minister for Health has launched a consultation to invite the public to comment on how to introduce an opt out organ donation system for Northern Ireland. This would require new legislation to change the current system, from opt in to opt out.

Take part in the Northern Ireland consultation.

Read more about the law change in Scotland.

Find out what different faiths state about organ donation in several languages.

Cick here to watch the ITV Borders story on the Scottish organ donor law change. 

Click below to listen to the radio advert by Nilah

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