The Scottish Government is raising awareness of an upcoming change to organ donation laws.
Under the current system, organs can only be collected from people who had volunteered to be donors, or with their family’s permission, but a change to regulations later this year will create an opt-out register instead of an opt-in one.
From March 26, adults who die in circumstances where they can donate will be considered donors unless they have expressly said they do not want to be involved or if a family member intervenes.
A new leaflet will be distributed across Scotland from Monday, explaining the new system and how to opt out.
The change has been backed by 40-year-old Luke Ripley, an aeronautical engineer in the Royal Air Force who received a heart transplant after being diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy three days before his 39th birthday.
“I’m glad to hear the law is changing. In my opinion it’s always needed to be an opt-out system. I have always been registered as a donor, and I have since used my experience to raise awareness particularly within the forces,” he said.
“Everyone in my unit has now signed up to be a donor, as they realise this can happen to anyone at any time.
“It’s important to respect that everyone has a choice, but I would urge everyone to look at the impact organ and tissue donation can have on people’s lives.”
With only 1% of people in Scotland dying in circumstances where they would be able to donate their organs, public health minister Mairi Gougeon said every opportunity was “very precious”.
“We want everyone in Scotland to understand what this change means for them and to have the right information so that they can make their choice and I would urge all members of the household aged 16 or over to take the time to read the leaflet,” she said.
“Donation remains a personal decision and we’re encouraging people to make the choice that’s right for them – whether that’s to be a donor or not.”
She added: “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.”
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