Opt-out organ donation in Scotland risks scandal

Scottish doctors say the Government’s new opt-out organ donation system fails to highlight people’s freedom to opt out.

The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (SCHB) warned that up to one million Scots could have their organs removed against their will, because the Human Tissue (Authorisation)(Scotland) Bill does not explicitly explain how potential donors may opt-out.

The Bill fails to explain that people can opt-out of donating their tissues and organs for scientific research, education and training.

‘Unacceptable’

Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research at SCHB, said: “It is very important that all persons in Scotland be given the right to opt out of having their organs used for what they may consider to be unacceptable research.

“This may even include the development of artificial sperm and eggs to create research embryos, or even in the creation of cloned embryos.”

He said the Bill should be amended to prevent the public’s confidence in the legislation from being undermined by controversy.

‘Great gift’

Earlier this year a spokesperson from the Catholic Church of Scotland also raised concerns about the plans.

“Organ donation is a great gift, but this proposed new system removes the element of gift and there is a real danger that people will have their organs removed on death when they had no intention of ever donating.”

“Most donors are motivated by a desire to help others who may be ill. Few would imagine their donated organs being used for training, research, or the creation of cloned embryos.”