Organ transplant success up by 9% in a year

Human organ Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A total of 415 people received a transplant in Scotland last year

The number of patients whose lives were saved or improved by organ transplants rose by 9% last year, according to Scottish government figures.

A total of 415 people received a transplant, marking what the government described as "significant progress" in encouraging organ donors.

The latest figures showed an 83% increase in donor numbers since 2008.

The government is set to launch a consultation on increasing donations - including the so-called opt-out system.

It would mean any individual who had not registered a clear decision on whether they wished their organs to be donated would be presumed to hold no objection.

But families would still have to be contacted and consulted before any transplant went ahead.

'Amazing progress'

Dr Sue Robertson, who is a member of the BMA's Scottish Council, said more than 800 people in Scotland were currently in need of a transplant.

"We think that's too many and we think we should do as much as we can to try and help those people," she told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"It's great to hear donation rates have increased and organ transplantation has been an area where there's been amazing progress, but we strongly believe that as long as people in Scotland are still dying waiting for transplants then more needs to be done."

Dr Robertson said an opt-out system could be crucial to reducing the number waiting for organs.

She added: "We have written to the minister Aileen Campbell to ask her to clarify the timetable for the consultation that she promised us some months ago, to look at the potential particularly for legislative change. To look at a potential for a soft opt-out system like the one they have in Wales."

Case study Scott Ramsay - 'A transplant really is like a golden ticket'

Image copyright Scottish government
Image caption Scott Ramsay says a transplant would completely re-start his life

Father-of-two Scott Ramsay, 54, from Edinburgh, has been on the waiting list for a donor kidney since March.

"I lived most of my life without any problems until my kidney function fell off a cliff last year. I'm not doing particularly well on dialysis - doctors have indicated the quality is low for the amount of time I'm dialysing.

"I knew a transplant would be the end goal and when I was going through the tests it did cross my mind that I might not be listed. I was so delighted to hear that I was being given that chance. The shot at a transplant really is like a golden ticket.

"It would be transformational and completely re-start my life because at the moment I don't have one. It would be nice to be able to walk uphill, go for a swim, do a crossword. The basic things I took for granted before I got ill.

"I think there are so many people out there that want to be donors, but just don't have the time or inclination to join. That's why I'm backing the campaign - anything that helps raise awareness of the importance of the register can only be a good thing."

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said more still needed to be done to encourage donors.

She said: "I am very aware that organ donation can only occur as a result of tragic circumstances and I'd like to thank every donor and their family who made the selfless decision to donate their organs and enabled others to live.

"I am also very grateful to staff across the NHS in Scotland for ensuring that, when appropriate, patients and their families are offered the opportunity to have donation wishes honoured.

"Today's figures are encouraging but for as long as people are dying waiting for transplants, more needs to be done. As our campaign says, we need everybody.

"It is more important than ever to talk about your wishes with your loved ones - we know that families are much more likely to agree to donation going ahead if they know it is what their loved one wanted."

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