How to opt out of organ donation in Scotland

Organ donation laws are changing in Scotland from March 26 – with Scots now automatically registered to donate in the event they die. The law is changing to help save lives – but if you still don’t want to donate for whatever reason, you can opt out of the organ donation scheme.

From today, it is now presumed people in Scotland have consented to donation unless stated otherwise.

The change has been hailed as a “landmark” moment by the British Medical Association.

At any given time in Scotland, there is an average of 500 people waiting for an organ transplant.

Public health minister Mairi Gougeon said: “This new action plan sets out a clear ambition of increasing organ and tissue donation and transplantation to enable more of those people who desperately need a transplant to access one.

Deputy chairwoman of its Scottish council Dr Sue Robertson added that she had seen “just how vital organ donation is and how life-saving and life-enhancing it can be for the person who receives that transplant and for their loved ones.”

She said: “I hope that over time organ donation will become the norm, with everyone having discussions with their families or closest friends about their wishes, and a more positive attitude towards donation within society.

“These discussions are crucial: the legislation is all about respecting each individual’s wishes about donation, and families and loved ones have a vital role in ensuring that this happens by providing any information they have about the individual’s most recent views.

“There has never been a better time than now to ensure that you have the conversation with those closest to you, while you can, so that they are prepared and are able to accurately report, and support, your wishes should the potential for organ donation arise.”

John Casey and Dr Iain Macleod, co-chairs of the Scottish Donation and Transplant Group, added: “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.”

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There are also a small group of exception, including:

  • Children under the age of 16
  • Those who have lived in Scotland for less than 12 months.
  • Adults who lack the capacity to understand the new law, such as those with dementia.


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