Organ donation: Bishops highlight ‘presumed consent’

Scotland has now moved to a new system of presumed consent, or deemed authorisation, with respect to organ donation, writes the Catholic Parliamentary Office.

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act changes the law on organ and tissue donation from an opt-in system to a ‘soft opt-out’ system. Authorisation is now presumed for organ/tissue donation for those who have not actively opted out.

Close relatives and next of kin may still be able to stop the removal of organs where it can be shown that it was not the deceased’s wishes that their organs be donated. Hence, the term ‘soft’ to describe the new system.

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has released a statement, below, to coincide with the introduction of the new system.

For more information and to update your details on the Organ Donation Register, visit or call 0300 303 2094.

‘The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland acknowledges organ donation after death as a noble and meritorious act to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is a gift and a sign of great love for one’s neighbour.

However, fundamental to the generous act of organ donation is its voluntary nature and, thus, the requirement for explicit consent. An opt-out system of organ donation may result in organs being taken after death without the deceased having previously given explicit consent.

Individuals should take great care to be clear about whether they would like to donate their organs when they die. Their intentions should be reflected on the organ donation register and made known to relatives.’

Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.