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MSPs overwhelmingly back ‘opt-out’ organ transplant scheme

Mike Rumbles
Mike Rumbles.

MSPs have overwhelmingly passed radical new proposals to increase the number of organs available for transplants.

Legislation to introduce an “opt-out” system of organ and tissue donation cleared its final hurdle at Holyrood when MSPs voted by 116 to three in favour of the plan, with two abstentions.

The opt-out system detailed in the Human Tissue (Authorisation) Bill will assume that adults want to donate their organs after death unless they have stated otherwise.

International evidence has suggested such an approach can lead to an increase in the supply of organs to deliver life-saving treatment.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Organ and tissue donation can be a life-changing gift.

“Evidence shows that opt-out systems can make a difference as part of a wider package of measures and this Bill provides further opportunities to both save and improve lives.”

North East Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles had previously raised concerns the Bill would raise the ‘evidential bar’ for individuals who do not wish to donate organs after they are deceased, beyond that elsewhere in the UK.

Mr Rumbles said his concerns had since been addressed and he voted in favour of the bill, saying it would save lives.

“I raised concerns with the first draft of the Bill because of the threshold of evidence that loved ones would have to provide to ‘prove’ the wishes of the deceased,” he said.

“I greatly appreciate the minister taking the time to make the necessary changes.”

Labour MSP Mark Griffin, whose father Francis died in 2007 days after a heart operation following a 10-year wait for an organ transplant, said he was “delighted” by the change.

Mr Griffin said: “Too many families like mine have lost a loved one waiting for an organ donor. This Bill will save lives throughout the country.”

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