Investigation into opt-out organ donation ordered

Health secretary Alan Johnson has called for an investigation of the notion of an ‘opt-out’ system regarding the donation of human organs, it has been reported.

The study is to focus on issues around introducing ‘presumed consent’ – where hospital staff are allowed to assume a deceased individual’s organs can be used for transplant unless the person has specifically stated otherwise.

Nicola Sturgeon, health secretary for Scotland, told the Scotsman that she welcomed the forum for debate to be opened on this topic as a change would be significant and would require the backing of both health professionals and the public if it was to occur.

"I very much share Alan Johnson’s aspiration that organ donation rates in every part of the UK should match the rates in other European countries such as Spain," she added.

Over 800 Scottish individuals are currently on waiting lists for transplants, while only 50 organs were donated in the country last year, reports the publication.

According to the NHS more than 400 people died while waiting for a transplant last year.