It is my pleasure to provide a foreword to the Scottish Government's new Donation and Transplantation Plan.
Organ and tissue donation is a unique act of benevolence. Many donations occur immediately following tragic events or at a time of great sorrow. This proximity to loss and grief only makes the willingness of families to think of other people and to donate their loved ones' organs all the more special. The decision may be taken instinctively at the time, but I know that, later on, comfort can come from the knowledge that such a loss has benefited others. And no less significant is the gift given by living donors, who are willing to donate an organ solely because it can save or improve someone else's life.
This plan sets out the ways in which we hope to improve donation and transplantation in Scotland. The plan builds on the very good progress we have made under the auspices of the Organ Donation Taskforce over the last five years. Scotland has achieved a 74% increase in donations over the last five-year period, as well as a 36% increase in transplants with deceased donor organs. But we know we can do better, and this plan seeks to address those areas where there is room for improvement, or where we want to do something different or something new.
The donation and transplantation of organs operates on a co-ordinated and collaborative basis across the United Kingdom. It is in the best interests of patients to ensure the best match between donor and recipients, and this can be best achieved by matching organs to the largest group of patients. Our approach is similar to that undertaken in many other parts of the world, including in a number of multi-country European transplant collaborations. This means we will work closely with the other parts of the UK and with NHS Blood and Transplant, the organisation which manages the NHS organ donor register and the allocation of organs, amongst other things. The four UK countries have developed an over-arching Strategy for organ donation and transplantation, and this Scottish plan is a companion to that, adding particular domestic focus for the Scottish context.
It will be clear when you read this plan how complex and multi-faceted the whole issue of organ donation and transplantation is. No single thing will revolutionise donation rates in this country - we know this to be true from experience elsewhere in the world. Rather we need to tackle every single weak link in the chain, and we need to drive continuous improvement. This plan seeks to do just that. It sets out twenty-one recommendations right across the pathway, from ensuring that everybody has the opportunity to make their wishes known, whatever those wishes may be, to ensuring that those who receive transplants have the appropriate after-care and follow-up. The Plan commits us to meet certain targets by 2020. We want to have amongst the best organ donation and transplantation rates in the world. These are testing ambitions, but they are achievable.
Ultimately, however, we need to keep in mind clearly the reason for all of this activity. We need to treat every donation as the valuable gift it is. Every donor and every donor family deserves our thanks and recognition, and it is our responsibility to ensure that every donation counts. And we need to think about the very many lives saved and improved because of somebody else's generosity. The NHS is a facilitator in this event - it is there to help the donor fulfil their wish to give the gift of life. It reflects the very best of humanity and society, and the NHS - indeed, society as a whole - has a duty to do all it can to support the wishes of donors.
I would like to dedicate this plan to every donor who has given that gift, and to all those people who have made it known that in the event of their death they would like to help somebody else to live.
Every photograph on the front cover of this publication depicts someone in Scotland whose life has been improved by receiving a transplant. These people, and many more like them, have been touched by the gift given by another. I look forward to seeing the very real progress we will make over the coming years, so that many more people can benefit from such a gift, and many more lives are saved and improved.
Michael Matheson Msp
Minister For Public HealthIntroduction and Background
Email: Pamela Niven
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