265 people die waiting for a kidney transplant in a decade
28 February 2019, 12:18
A total of 265 Scots have died while on the waiting list for a new kidney over the last decade, figures have revealed.
Statistics going back to 2009 showed that there have been between 22 and 32 deaths a year amongst those waiting for a kidney transplant - with 25 people dying while on the waiting list in 2018.
Public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick revealed the figures after MSPs at Holyrood approved in prinicipal legislation which will see Scotland move to a 'soft opt out' system for organ donation.
Under the proposed changes it will be assumed that people consent to their organs being used after their death, unless they have specifically opted out.
The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill also contains safeguards to ensure donation will not take place where it would be clearly against the deceased person's wishes.
There are currently 432 people across Scotland who are waiting for a kidney transplant.
Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures using parliamentary questions, urged the Scottish Government to do more to tackle the shortage of donors - such as working to raise awareness of living donors.
Health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "These figures reveal that in the last decade hundreds of patients have died while waiting for a kidney transplant. Hundreds more are waiting for a transplant.
"I believe the current Organ Donation Bill will help to ensure that we simplify the process of getting organs to those who need them.
"However, the Scottish Government also needs to do more to support organisations like Give A Kidney, which works to raise awareness of living kidney donation to a stranger."
Mr Fitzpatrick said Scotland had already seen "significant increases" in living kidney donors - with more people giving their organs either to a loved one or a complete stranger.
He said: "Organ and tissue donation can be a life-changing gift, and has the power to both save and improve lives.
"In Scotland we have seen tremendous progress over the last decade, with the number of donors and organ transplants all increasing. There has also been a significant increase in the number of people registering their donation decision, with over 50% of the Scottish population on the NHS Organ Donor Register - the highest rate of all UK countries. "
The minister continued: "We also continue to see significant increases in the number of people volunteering to be a living kidney donor, either to a relative or friend, or to someone they do not know.
"Living kidney donation offers the best outcomes for people needing a kidney transplant so the Scottish Government is continuing to raise awareness about living donation.
"However, there are still too many people waiting for transplants, with an average of more than 500 people waiting for an organ transplant at any one point in Scotland.
"That's why we are doing all we can to increase organ donation and, while no single measure can achieve this, evidence shows that opt-out systems can make a difference as part of a package of measures."