Organ donor support rising

Scotland’s organ donor registrations reaches half the population.


Half of people in Scotland have registered to donate their organs or tissue after their death, and the country continues to have the highest rate in the UK.

There are more than 2,724,000 Scottish residents registered on the UK Organ Donor Register, or 50.4% of Scotland’s population, and surveys show that around 90% of people support organ donation. Approximately 550 people in Scotland are waiting for an organ transplant, which could save or transform their lives.

The rise in registered donors comes after high-profile annual awareness-raising campaigns. In addition, legislation has recently been introduced to the Scottish Parliament that would move Scotland to a soft opt out system, with appropriate safeguards. Under the proposed system, if someone has not stated a decision about donation after death, they may be deemed as having authorised it.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the landmark achievement while visiting Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to learn about the work of the hospital’s kidney transplant and dialysis units.

Ms Freeman said:

“Just over half of Scotland’s people have registered to donate their organs or tissue after death, reflecting both their incredible generosity and the progress we have made in highlighting the need for organ donors. However, we need more people to register. Most organ and tissue donations can only occur in tragic circumstances, and only 1% of people die in circumstances where they could be an organ donor. Registering only takes two minutes and could save or transform someone’s life.

“We have introduced proposals to change the laws around organ and tissue donation to move to a soft opt out system, to build on the significant progress we’ve already made and as part of the long term culture change to encourage people to support donation. However, the most important step people can take now is to make a decision and tell their family and loved ones. In the event of a tragedy, this would make it much easier for them at a very difficult time and ensure your decision is followed.”

Mr Marc Clancy, consultant transplant surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, said:

“I have seen the unit grow from a small size performing 60 transplants a year to become the largest in Scotland.

“We are now transplanting 180 organs annually while achieving some of the best success rates in the UK. This is testament to the commitment of our staff and the national drive to expand organ donation.”


On 4 July 2018, there were 2,724,358 people residing in Scotland postcode areas on the UK Organ Donor Register. This is 50.4% of the Scottish population. The UK average was 38% at 31 March 2018.

Anyone who would like to join the Organ Donor Register can either visit or call NHS Blood and Transplant on 0300 123 23 23.

The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow carries out kidney transplants.  As well as carrying out living donor transplants where a living person has volunteered to donate one of their kidneys, the hospital also carries out transplants using kidneys donated by deceased donors around the UK. There are two other expert transplant units in Scottish hospital: the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank, which carries out heart transplants; and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, which carries out kidney, liver and pancreas transplants.

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament on 8 June 2018. The Bill proposes to enable an opt out system of deceased organ and tissue donation. This would mean that in future most adults could be deemed to have authorised donation of their organs and/or tissue if they have not opted out. The Bill contains safeguards to ensure that families will be asked about their loved one’s views to ensure donations don’t occur where the person would not have wished it.


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