Scotland Switches To An Opt-Out Organ Donation System At Midnight Tonight

by : Julia Banim on : 25 Mar 2021 18:05
Scotland Switches To An Opt-Out Organ Donation System At Midnight TonightPA Images

Scotland will switch to an opt-out organ donation system from midnight tonight, March 25, as part of a five-year plan to increase the number of organ transplants.

This will mean that, going forward, people may formally ‘opt-out’ of organ donation should they wish to. However, if they do not choose the opt out option, donation can automatically occur after their death.


According to BMA Scotland, there is a significant gap between intent and action when it comes to organ donation. Although more than 95% of people in Scotland are in support of organ donation, just 50% are on the organ donor list. It’s hoped this legislation will address this difference.

The Donation and Transplantation Plan for Scotland: 2021-26, has been developed with the Scottish Donation and Transplant Group (SDTG), and makes recommendations to increase the number of organ donors, and to improve the care given to transplant patients in the years following their operation.

In a Scottish Government press release, Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon said:


Over the last 10 years a great deal of progress has been made. However, there is still a lot more to do. Too many people are still tragically dying waiting for a transplant and too many others are still waiting too long for their transplant.

The opt out law change is one of many initiatives underway to help deliver improvements and the measures set out in this plan will contribute further.

The Scottish Government is confident the package of measures included in the plan – both new recommendations and initiatives already started – will enable us to continue to save and improve the lives of those on the waiting list by increasing the numbers of transplants over the next five years.

Other measures included within the new plan include using new technology to allow more organs to be used for transplant, reducing missed referrals and building upon research and innovation.

organ donationPA Images

Co-chairs of the Scottish Donation and Transplant Group, Mr John Casey, consultant transplant surgeon, and Dr Iain Macleod, consultant in intensive care medicine, said:


The new action plan will build on the progress made in recent years to improve transplantation and organ donation in Scotland. It contains key elements which will improve the lives and experiences of patients and, as such, we very much welcome its introduction.

There are various factors that impact whether or not donation can go ahead, with only 1% of people dying in circumstances where donation is even possible.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Now, Scotland


Scottish Government
  1. Scottish Government

    Steps to increase organ transplants