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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Awareness Campaign around Organ and Tissue Donation Law Change

All households in North Ayrshire and Scotland are receiving a leaflet explaining the change in the law around organ and tissue donation in Scotland.

From 26 March 2021 the law will change to an opt out system.

This means that most adults who die in circumstances where they are able to donate will be considered as having agreed to be a donor unless they record a decision not to – what’s known as ‘opt out’.

According to data obtained from the UK Transplant Registry, in 2012/20 NHS Ayrshire & Arran facilitated 7 organ donors resulting in 14 patients across our region receiving a life-saving or life-changing transplant.

A recent survey revealed almost two thirds (64%) of people in Scotland were aware of the choices they have under the new law.

Of those aware, 70% have decided to be a donor, 8% have decided to opt out, and 22% are undecided or don’t know.

Everyone has a choice. If you don’t want to be a donor you can choose to opt out on the NHS Organ Donor Register at any time, before or after the law changes.

If you do support donation, you can still choose to actively record your decision to be a donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register. You can also choose which organs or tissue you would want to donate on the register.

The new law will add to the package of measures already in place which have led to significant increases in donation and transplantation over the last decade.

Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon MSP said:

“In Scotland there are an average of more than 500 people waiting for an organ transplant at any one time. The law is changing to save and improve more lives.

“Only 1% of people die in circumstances where they might become an organ donor. This means every opportunity for donation is very precious.

“Under the opt out system, families of potential donors will always be consulted to check what their loved one’s latest views on donation were. So, whatever you decide, as well as recording it on the NHS Organ Donor Register you should also tell those close to you about your donation decision to help ensure that it is honoured.”

Kenneth Gibson MSP said:

“I have supported, campaigned and spoken frequently in favour of this policy since I was first elected to Holyrood in 1999.

“It is wonderful that 14 people across Ayrshire and Arran are alive or have received life-changing donations in just one year. What a gift to leave to another person, who will have been through a lot, and to their loved ones.

“I know that donation is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind every day and therefore many people who would have been more than happy for their organs or tissue to be donated, didn’t register in the past.

“I encourage everyone aged 16 or over to read the leaflet when it comes, to understand why it’s important to make their donation decision, record it and share it with family and friends.”

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed in July 2019 and will come into effect on 26 March 2021.

The 2019 Act amends the existing Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 by introducing a new, additional authorisation called ‘deemed authorisation’. This means that donation may proceed where adults over the age of 16 were not known to have any objection to donation.

To record a donation decision or find out more about the opt out system of organ and tissue donation and your choices, go online at or call 0300 303 2094.



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