The opt out system

Scotland has an opt out system of organ and tissue donation.

Organ and tissue donation law in Scotland

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 provides for a system of deemed authorisation for organ and tissue donation for transplantation purposes. This is commonly known as an opt out system. 

The law covers the processes surrounding organ and tissue donation, including the role of the family and routine medical procedures and tests that would need to be carried out on a potential donor to ensure that transplantation is likely to be safe, successful and a suitable match for somebody on the transplant waiting list. 

Find out more about what it might mean for you and your family and make sure you have all the answers before you make a decision.

Facts about the law and donation

Dr Hari Doshi, Heart Transplant Surgeon

In this video, Dr Hari Doshi, a Heart Transplant Surgeon at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital briefly explains why the law around organ and tissue donation is changing in Scotland.

How does the opt out system work?

Under the new opt out system, if all adults aged 16 years and over have not confirmed whether they want to be a donor, they will be considered to be willing to donate their organs and tissue when they die, unless they choose to opt out. 

You can still choose whether or not you want to be an organ and tissue donor by registering your decision and telling your family. Your faith, beliefs and culture will always be respected.

Leaflets explaining the opt out system

  • Who the opt out system doesn't apply to

    The opt out system doesn't apply to certain groups of people. 

  • The role of your family

    Your family will always be approached if organ or tissue donation is a possibility. 

  • Medical tests and procedures

    Routine medical tests and procedures need to take place before donation can happen. 

What do I need to do?

Everyone feels different about organ and tissue donation, but most people are aware of its life-saving and life-enhancing importance. Here’s where you can find out more about your choices, before making your decision.

  • 1

    Make your decision

    You can choose to donate or not to donate, but did you know it doesn't have to be all or nothing?

  • 2

    Register your decision

    Learn more about the NHS Organ Donor register Register and how to register record your decision.

  • 3

    Share your decision

    Whatever you decide, it's important to make sure your donation decision is known, so be sure to tell your family and friends.

Organ and tissue donation laws in other parts of the UK

Organ donation laws vary across different countries in the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. 

See the law where you are