A new Donation and Transplantation Plan for Scotland aims to increase the number of donors and transplants in order to save more lives.
The plan builds on Scotland’s success of having more than two million Scots on the NHS Organ Donor Register - the highest rate in the UK. Since 2008, we have seen deceased donation rates increase by more than 74 per cent since 2008, compared to a UK-wide increase of 50 per cent.
The plan aims to increase the availability of organs and tissue for transplantation and raise awareness with the public and professionals about organ donation.
Minister for Public Health Mr Matheson said:
“Organ transplants transform lives. That is why we must do more to ensure that everyone who wishes to become donors are able to do so.
“In Scotland, we’ve already seen huge progress in terms of getting more people on the NHS Organ Donor Register and in significantly increasing the number of donors. While this shows we are on the right track, we know that even more can be done to address the shortage of donated organs.
“This Scottish plan sets out the actions we and the NHS will take to give more people the chance of receiving a life-saving or life-enhancing transplant.”
One supporter of the new plan is 67 year old Betty Taylor from Livingston who knows the real difference a transplant can make. Betty received a liver and kidney transplant last year and who is now looking forward to a positive future.
She said: “When numerous tests showed that my liver problems in particular were life-threatening it was a real shock. I had obviously spent years not realising how ill I was and although my kidney issues were less serious, I was told that eventually dialysis would be required if they kept deteriorating. It was really difficult to take in.”
But in March 2011, Betty was given hope that life could be different when she was put on the list for both liver and kidney transplants.
She received the happiest of New Year news when she was told that kidney and liver matches had been found for her just a few days into 2012.
She said: “I had lost so much weight by Christmas that I looked like a skeleton. I was so thin that when one of my friends hugged me on New Year’s Day, they cracked my rib. I tried my best to keep going but I was really frail and I started to think the worst.
“Then I got the news that would change my life forever - I was to go to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh as kidney and liver matches had been found for me. I almost saw this as my last shot at having a better life.
After 12 hours of surgery, Betty woke briefly to be told that everything with both operations had gone well before fully coming around later in the hospital’s High Dependency Unit. Although her recovery was initially a bit of a rollercoaster following bouts of pneumonia and difficulties putting on weight, things have been looking much more positive for the past few months and ever since her transplant, her liver and kidney functions have improved greatly.
She said: “I have now been back home a good while and I’m feeling much better. I have finally reached a healthy weight again and things are looking positive for the future.
“I am so grateful that someone made the decision to join the NHS Organ Donor Register as that decision has saved my life. I often think about my donor’s family too and how they allowed the donation to go ahead which is very humbling.
“My life has been saved by organ donation and I would encourage everyone to tell their families their wishes and think about signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register now.”