Organ donation bill voted down

Monday 15th February 2016


To the bitter disappointment of patients and their families, last week the Scottish Government voted down the Organ Donation Bill brought forward by Labour MSP Anne McTaggart.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bill, it proposed to introduced a ‘soft-opt out’ system for organ donation. Its overarching aim was to increase the number of organs and tissue made available for transplantation in Scotland.

As it stands, demand for organs far outstrips the number available. As a result, lives are being lost and families are suffering needlessly with 500 people currently on the waiting list.

Those in favour of the Bill have pointed to the example of Spain which introduced ‘soft opt-out’ system in 1979 and now has the highest rate of donations from deceased donors in Europe.

As one would expect, when it comes to an emotive issue such as this, there are sincere and strongly held views on both sides of the debate. And I have complete respect for those who voted against the Bill as a matter of conscience.  However, itbeggar’s belief, that according to John Mason MSP, a number of his colleagues voted against the Bill for political reasons.

To make matters worse, there were over twenty MSPs in the debating chamber who publicly backed a soft opt-out system for organ donation previously, but subsequently voted against the Bill without explanation.

 Understandably, many of those fighting to change the law have been left furious. Expectations were raised only to be dashed at the last minute.

The Scottish Government has said that in the new Parliament it will consult on the development of a new ‘soft opt-out’ system. However, this could mean we have to wait years before any progress is made.  Any technical problems with the Bill could have been addressed as it progressed through Parliament in the coming weeks.

 One campaigner speaking on behalf of patients and families expressed their frustration with the Scottish Government’s decision when he said: “The Government seem to be playing politics with people’s lives. By the time we get a new law people will have died”.