The family of the first person in Europe to receive a lung transplant have urged the Scottish Government to implement an opt-out procedure in relation to organ donations.
Under legislation expected to be introduced in Scotland before the summer parliamentary recess, a soft opt-out system will be introduced, where organs still cannot be removed without the consent of loved ones.
However, parts of the adult body can be used in transplants in the absence of expressed permission from the deceased should loved ones grant permission on their behalf.
Currently over 45% of the Scottish population are signed up to the organ donation register, amassing almost 2.5million people.
Alex Dan Smith was 15 years old when medics experimented with the first transplant procedure of its kind to save the young boy’s life in 1968, after he accidentally drank from a lemonade bottle containing paraquat weed killer. Although the pioneering procedure did not save his life, his family appreciate the difference transplants can make.
Now his siblings have urged government ministers to rethink legislation.
In a joint statement Mr Smith’s family said: “We as a family were extremely grateful at the time of Alex Dan’s illness to the parents of Anne Main for giving permission for her lung to be used in an attempt to save our brother’s life, in what must have been very distressing circumstances for them.
“It was unfortunate that, due to the state of medical knowledge about the effects of paraquat in the blood, the procedure, although technically successful, did not save Alex Dan’s life.
“Over the past 50 years there have been tremendous developments in the use of transplants – as a method of treating diseases of kidney, liver, heart, lung, etc – but there is a fundamental problem due to the shortage of donor organs and many people die while on the waiting list for a transplant procedure.
“Under the current legal system we have to opt into a donor list, whereas if this was changed to an opt-out procedure, we believe that many more organs would be available for transplant.”