A change in the law to boost organ donation is a step closer – but a senior politician believes there could be a “scandal” without careful wording.
Just 63% of Scots are on the organ donor register compared with 80% in Wales, where the law presumes consent to donate organs.
In a Scottish Parliament debate on Tuesday, politicians supported a bill which would introduce presumed consent in Scotland.
However, North East MSP Mike Rumbles said problems could arise without better wording.
Relatives currently have to give verbal evidence their loved ones who have died do not wish to donate their organs, but the new law would require written proof.
After the debate, Mr Rumbles, who has been on the organ donor register for 20 years, said: “Many people simply wouldn’t have a written recording of their loved one’s wishes.”
Mr Rumbles was among MSPs who worked on 2006 organ donor legislation. The number registered has since risen from 25% to 63%.
He added: “Relatives’ distress in response to the organ donation going ahead because they do not have written proof could create a scandal which would risk undoing all the progress we have made in boosting organ donor numbers over the last 13 years.”
Several politicians taking part in the debate, including Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton and West Scotland MSP Maurice Corry, agreed with Mr Rumbles, who said he would push for an amendment to the bill.
Lothian MSP Miles Briggs, an Aberdeen University graduate, paid tribute in the debate to his fellow student Millie Forbes, who died of leukaemia in 2004 aged 21, and inspired many to join the register.
Mr Briggs said: “Millie was a real inspiration, and it is remarkable to see, 15 years after she lost her life to leukaemia, how Millie has brought fresh hope and has saved the lives of others with leukaemia across Britain since then.”
Scottish Government Public Health Minister and SNP MSP Joe Fitzpatrick said: “The approach in the bill is broadly similar to that in the legislation in Wales and we are not aware of the issues that Mr Rumbles is concerned about arising there.”