Scotland to ‘wait and see’ on presumed organ donation

Wed, 17 Jul 2013

Scottish ministers will ‘wait and see’ on the introduction of presumed consent for organ donation, saying they will look at the impact of similar legislation in Wales.

A new government report says ministers should wait for “evaluation of the move to ‘opt-out’ in Wales” before deciding whether or not to introduce such a system in Scotland.

A law introducing presumed consent for organ donation was passed by the Welsh Assembly earlier this month.

Valuable

Scottish Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said in the report foreword that every organ donated should be treated as “the valuable gift it is.”

He said the report sets out the actions the Government is planning to take to increase organ donation.

But the British Medical Association in Scotland have criticised ministers for shelving the introduction of presumed consent.

Debate

Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the British Medical Association Scotland, said: “We can’t wait until 2015 to begin the debate about opt-out. We need to start the public debate about this now.”

An editorial in The Herald newspaper pointed out that the new law in Wales “may not produce the revolution some anticipate”.

This is because clinical teams “will continue to have to take the views of relatives into account”, the editorial says.

Caution

It said any change in procedure “must be handled with extreme sensitivity and caution” since there will usually be newly-bereaved families involved.

A columnist in the Daily Mail has also raised concerns about a system of presumed consent for organ donation.

Tom Utley said he has “never had complete faith in the medical profession’s ability to distinguish between a living human being and a corpse”.

Harvested

He highlights the case in New York state of Colleen Burns who almost had her organs harvested before she woke up on the operating table.

He said, “her doctors had other ideas about the definition of death”.

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