Scotland to consider presumed consent organ donation law

A Holyrood Committee has agreed to look into the idea of ‘presumed consent’ for organ donations in Scotland.

A petition with 10,000 signatures calling for an “opt-out” system has been lodged with the Public Petitions Committee.

The committee is now writing to the Scottish Government, health boards and transplant experts to obtain evidence on whether presumed consent would help waiting lists.


Critics have raised serious concerns about presumed consent for organ donations, with some saying the system turns human organs into the property of the state.

Bioethicist Agneta Sutton, senior lecturer at the University of Chichester, warned that an “opt-out” system would “commodify” the human body.

She said: “Organ donation is a life saver. And let us hope it remains a gift.”


Currently, patients must give their permission for their organs to be harvested when they die.

During the Committee hearing, Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said MSP Drew Smith would introduce a member’s Bill on presumed consent if the Scottish Government fails to act.

The Welsh Government has recently published a Bill to introduce the same system, where everyone is considered a willing donor unless they have stated otherwise.


Mr Smith’s proposals would mirror Wales’ legislation.

Earlier this month, Scottish Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said an opt-out system was “not completely off the agenda”.

Related Resources