Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart today formally introduced her Transplantation (Authorisation of Removal of Organs etc.) (Scotland) Bill.
To mark the introduction of the Bill Ms McTaggart hosted an event at the Scottish Parliament and a large group of transplant recipients and their families who support Ms McTaggart’s proposals were in attendance.
Also present at the event were representatives from a number of medical organisations including the British Medical Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the Scottish Kidney Federation and the Scottish Youth Parliament.
TV Presenter Lorraine Kelly, who had previously offered her support for the Bill, reiterated her backing via a video message where she stated that being an organ donor was a “unique opportunity for people to leave behind an amazing gift” and that she was “proud to be able to support Anne’s Bill”.
Heart transplant patient Brian Keeley was also in attendance, and on display were his portrait paintings which pay tribute to some of the extraordinary staff at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital who helped him survive on life support for 101 days, following a severe heart attack, until he was able to have a life-saving heart transplant at the end of 2013.
The Bill proposes to amend the current ‘opt-in’ system of organ donation in Scotland, whereby those wishing to become a donor are encouraged to add their name to the NHS Organ Donation Register. The Scottish Government’s own evidence shows that whilst only 5% of the population oppose organ donation in principle, less than 40% of people are registered as organ donors.
Ms McTaggart’s proposals would mean that unless an adult had expressed an objection and ‘opted-out’ of the organ donation register, then their organ and tissue could be removed posthumously. In view of the significant difference between the number of people on the waiting list for transplant operations and the number of organs available, Ms McTaggart believes that reform is now essential.
Following a public consultation which showed overwhelming public support for Ms McTaggart’s proposals, the proposed Bill secured cross-party support at the Scottish Parliament with 40 MSPs offering their backing. It will now begin the formal three stage legislative process at the Scottish Parliament.
Ms McTaggart said “I’m delighted with the success of today’s event and that my Bill has been formally introduced at the Scottish Parliament. There’s still a long way to go in the legislative process but I’m confident that the overwhelming evidence in favour of my proposals will ensure the success of my Bill.
“It was great to see so many people with a strong personal desire to see the implementation of a ‘soft opt-out’ system in Scotland present at the event. Individuals who have had successful transplants, as well as those who are still on the waiting list, and their families were able to meet and discuss the Bill with medical professionals and charities. I was also delighted that Lorraine Kelly again reiterated her support and highlighted the importance of starting the conversation about organ donation with your family which is so important.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues at the Scottish Parliament and with stakeholders as they look closely at the proposals over the next few months.”
You can read the Bill and accompanying documents here.