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Let’s Talk – Organ Donation

Ahead of Scotland’s move to an opt out system of organ and tissue donation, new research has revealed telling family is the way most people have made their donation decision known. 

The law in Scotland changes to an opt out system from 26 March 2021, which means that if people aged 16 and over have not recorded a decision about donation, they will be considered as a possible donor when they die.

Under the new law, people can choose to be a donor, or opt out of donation, however sharing that decision with family remains vital, as family members will still be consulted to check what a loved ones latest views on donation were.  This is to ensure donation doesn’t proceed where it is against a person’s wishes. 

Almost three quarters of people who have made their decision have told family what they’d like to happen, followed by over half recording it on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and 27 per cent sharing it with friends.

The research also reveals one in ten people haven’t yet made their decision known to others . Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick has outlined the importance of people recording their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and making family aware of their latest views on donation. 

Reasons for not telling family about becoming an organ donator includes ‘not getting round to it’ and some people didn’t want to raise what they felt was too personal to share.

The Scottish Government is set to launch a national advertising campaign early next year to highlight what the change of law means, and the options people have, ahead of the March law change date.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“With the introduction of Scotland’s opt out legislation on the horizon, we’re encouraging people to make time to record their donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and share it with family. 

“Under the new law, family will always be asked about a loved one’s latest views on donation. We know organ donation isn’t something that comes up in everyday conversation but making a point of speaking about what you’d want to happen, means your family will be able to honour it.

“Everyone has a choice and regardless of whether you decide to be a donor, or opt out of donation, making that decision known is vital.”

For more about the law change, or to opt out, visit organdonationscotland.org or call 0300 123 123.

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