More than 50% of Grampian and Highland residents have signed up to be potential organ donors after their death, new figures show.
The law in Scotland changed almost six months ago, moving from an “opt in” system to “opt out,” but people are still being encouraged to make their wishes known.
The stats have been released to mark the start of Organ and Tissue Donation Week, which runs until Sunday.
Alongside this, NHS Grampian has announced the creation of two new trainee posts to support the process going forward.
How many potential donors?
In March, the Scottish system was overhauled and it is now assumed all over-16s have agreed to donate their organs, unless they have stated otherwise or are part of an exempt group.
Clinicians will still ask a family’s permission after the death of a potential donor, however, just to ensure their decision is up-to-date.
Currently, 52.8% of people in the Grampian area have registered their decision to be a donor, while an additional 2.9% have opted out of the process.
In the Highlands, 55.4% have registered their opt in decision, with a further 2.9% withdrawing.
Paul Gamble, an intensive care consultant and Grampian’s clinical lead for organ donation, said: “Despite the change, we still encourage people to make their decision known by adding their name to the organ donor register and making sure their families are aware of their wishes.”
Support for families
Two new trainee roles have been created within NHS Grampian to support the families of donors, clinical staff and assist with research.
Linzi Moir and Amy Dutia are both registrars in intensive care medicine and their new roles will help make the process easier and smoother for years to come.
Linzi said: “As well as gaining a better understanding of the work around organ donation, the longer-term aim is to set up a network of trainees across Scotland, so we can share learning about the care of patients involved in organ donation.
“This includes both donors and their families and transplant recipients.”
Lives ‘transformed’ by donors
Amy said: “Just 1% of people die in circumstances which mean organ and tissue donation can go ahead and almost all of those deaths occur in intensive care units.
“Understanding the process around organ donation is a vital part of working in intensive care medicine.”
Dr Gamble added: “Countless lives have been transformed thanks to the brave and selfless decisions made by donor families, at the most difficult of times for them.
“To have two of these trainee posts based at ARI is a credit to our team and shows how committed we are to organ donation in the north-east of Scotland.”
For more information on signing the register with your donation decision, visit organdonationscotland.org