Scotland politics

'Lessons to learn' on organ donors

surgical operation

Lessons could be learned from a health board which increased its organ donors despite an overall drop in Scotland, the Scottish government has said.

NHS Grampian has achieved a five-fold increase in deceased donors over the past four years, from three in 2010/11 to 15 in 2014/15.

But the number of patients successfully receiving organ transplants in Scotland fell by by 9% to 360.

There were also falls in the numbers of deceased and living organ donors.

According to the NHS Blood and Transplant service, the number of deceased donors in Scotland fell from 106 to 98 in the 12 months up to March of this year.

The number of living donors also fell slightly to 81.

Image caption Maureen Watt said lessons could be learned from NHS Grampian

Public health minister Maureen Watt said lessons could be learned from NHS Grampian, as she visited Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Ms Watt said: "We are making significant progress on organ donation. Since we started our plan of improvement in 2008 we have seen an 82% increase in deceased donor numbers; a 42% increase in the number of transplants undertaken and the active transplant waiting list has reduced by over 20%.

"I am particularly pleased to see such an improvement here in Grampian. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the many NHS staff across NHS Grampian who have worked tirelessly to make this possible.

"I am very aware that organ donation can only occur as a result of tragic circumstances and it is important that we pay tribute to the organ donors and to their families who made the decision to help others.

"We will now look to see what lessons can be learned from Grampian and see if this can be replicated in other hospitals in Scotland."

Dr Iain Macleod, the clinician in charge of organ donation for NHS Grampian, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We've spent a lot of time working with the team in the intensive care unit and we have specialist nurses who deal with donation.

"We're trying to make it normal practice to ask families, at what is a terrible time for them, if their loved ones would like to donate. Just by asking that question more often we are finding families are saying yes."

UK-wide the number of organ donations fell for the first time in 11 years with 224 fewer transplants.


Key Scottish figures

  • There was an 8% fall in the number of deceased donors in Scotland to 98
  • The number of donors after brain death increased by 3% to 64, while the number of donors after circulatory death fell by 23% to 34
  • The number of living donors fell by 5% to 81, accounting for almost half of the total number of organ donors
  • The number of patients transplanted in Scotland whose lives were saved or improved by an organ transplant fell by 9% to 360
  • 251 patients transplanted in Scotland had their sight restored through a cornea transplant, representing a fall of 3%

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