Organ Donation

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 12:00 pm on 22nd January 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Scottish ministers support the current voluntary system of organ donation because it saves lives. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of donors for transplantation. I urge everyone, inside and outside the chamber, who can register as a donor to do so.

Photo of John Farquhar Munro John Farquhar Munro Liberal Democrat

The First Minister's commitment on this issue is very welcome. Will he consider in further detail the opportunities that we would have to save more lives if we followed the example of countries such as Belgium and Spain, where opt-out systems have helped to bridge the gap between organ availability and patient need?

Does he recognise that doctors and the British Medical Association favour that measure and that it could make a real difference to more than 450 people who are currently awaiting transplants in Scotland?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I am conscious of the importance of the issue and also of the cross-party support that exists for the position that John Farquhar has outlined again today. We are not yet convinced that an opt-out system is the right way forward, but we will look at John Farquhar Munro's proposed member's bill and consider it in due course.

Again, I urge everyone who cares about those who suffer and those who need organ transplants to register. Registration is very easy—it takes about five minutes on the worldwide web; people need only go to the right website and fill in the details—that is them registered and on the national list. Just under 100 people in Scotland every year have their life saved by organ transplant and more than 100 people have their quality of life dramatically improved. As John Farquhar Munro says, about 400 people are awaiting transplants and need those organs. I hope that everybody who is in the Parliament today and those who are watching on television will sign up and register to be an organ transplant donor.

Meeting suspended until 14:30.

On resuming—