A BLACK Isle mother struck down by kidney disease has welcomed the prospect of new legislation which could improve her chances of getting a transplant.
Mairi Macleod’s busy life came to a standstill when she was diagnosed four years ago, and now has to spend up to 10 hours every night on home dialysis.
The 57-year-old, from Tore, was told her chances of receiving a new kidney on the transplant waiting list could take from five to 10 years due to her high antibody count.
But new hope has come in the form of a change in the law being proposed by the Scottish Government.
Legislation is to be tabled to introduce a “soft opt-out system”, whereby people will be deemed to have consented to the removal of their organs unless they say otherwise.
And the wishes of families and next of kin would continue to be respected, so removal of organs would not go ahead without their support.
If it reaches the statute books Scotland would follow in the footsteps Wales, which became the first UK country to offer a soft opt-put donation arrangement in December 2015.
While admitting she was being selfish, Mrs Macleod hopes the law can be changed in Scotland too. She said: “I’m all for it - it’s a great idea. It’s a really good way to do it rather than forcing everyone to agree to have their organs donated.
“There are some people who have strong objections, but this doesn’t take away the right of the family to object.
“I’ve been on the list for a year and a half and I haven’t had a single call. This opens up another avenue.”
Mrs Macleod, a mother of four originally from Lewis, said she had not given organ donation a thought before she was diagnosed, but signed up to donate her own organs as soon as she was.
Having her life so dramatically restricted by kidney disease has made her appreciate how important it is for surgeons to have a greater supply of organs and wants to get the message out to others.
Highlands and Island MSP Maree Todd has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to introduce new organ donation legislation.
The decision was backed by 82 per cent of those who contributed to a consultation.
The 14-week survey looked at various ways to increase the number of people being referred to the donation services in Scotland.
Currently organ donation after death only occurs if someone has given advance authorisation or if their nearest relative authorises it on their behalf.
But the so called “deemed authorisation system” now being proposed changes that significantly.
Ms Todd said: “I hope that by getting people to opt out rather than opt in to the organ donation scheme will help reduce the waiting time for available organs.
“With the amazing help of donors and their families, NHS Scotland has already made great progress, including a 34 per cent increase in donors in this past year alone. Scotland now has the highest donor rate in the UK.
“However, we can do better and moving to a soft opt-out system is a really important step towards further reducing the number of people in the Highlands and Islands waiting for transplants.
“We should always keep in mind the tragic circumstances that give rise to organ donation and forever appreciate the selfless acts of donors and their families that enable others to live.
“Organ donation saves lives and is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.
“I hope that people will support the change, which will benefit many future transplant patients.”
However, the proposal has not been welcomed enthusiastically by all.
The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics has warned the system would create a “very significant risk for serious mistakes”, with no guarantee that a deceased’s wishes are followed and the prospect of donation rates falling if public confidence is undermined.
Dr Calum MacKellar, the organisation’s research director, noted there had been no increase in the number of transplants from deceased donors in Wales since its opt-out system was introduced.
And more people in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK agree to donate their organs.
Forty five per cent of the population have signed up to the organ donor register, with more than 116,000 people registering in 2016.
Meanwhile it’s possible to register your willingness to donate an
organ with a two-minute online sign up on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
It is a confidential, computerised database that is used to help
establish whether people want to donate their organs or not, and if they
do, what organs they wish to specify.
Those considering registering are reminded that one organ donor can save
up to seven lives and help two people to see again
The website states: “The importance of organ donation can’t be stressed
enough. Quite simply, you will be making a decision to save and
transform lives in the event of your death. And if you are on the NHS
Organ Donor Register, then healthcare professionals will know right away
it was your wish to help others, and they can save valuable, potentially
It notes too that those signing up can change their preferences at any
time or de-register if they change their minds.
The website also has a “myth-busting” section addressing some of the
most common concerns cited by people unsure as to whether they wish to
To register as an organ donor, go to www.organdonationscotland.org