Commenting on the launch of the Scottish Government's organ donation campaign, the BMA welcomed the Government's attempts to encourage more people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation Register but said that bold action was required in order to dramatically improve donation rates.

Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the BMA in Scotland said:

"The BMA has actively supported efforts to improve transplantation rates. But despite many high profile campaigns to generate an increase in the number of donors, there has been limited success.

" In Scotland, 778 people are waiting for an organ transplant. Some of these people will die while they are waiting whilst others will have died without even reaching the waiting list. Meanwhile, repeated studies show that over 90% of the population supports organ donation, yet only a third have signed up to the organ donor register.

"The BMA believes that a change to a system of presumed consent for organ donation addresses this problem, by making donation the default position from which people may opt out during their lifetime if they so wish. Given the exceptionally high level of support for donation, this is simply making it easier for people to achieve their wish to donate."


A 'soft' system of presumed consent

The BMA supports the introduction of a 'soft' system of presumed consent in which relatives' views are also taken into account. Instead of being asked to consent to donation, they would be informed that their relative had not opted out of donation and unless they object - either because they are aware of an unregistered objection by the individual or because it would cause major distress to close relatives - the donation would proceed. Donation would therefore become the default position.

British Medical Association

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