Humanists call for organ donation ‘modernisation’

The Humanist Society of Scotland have called for an overhaul to the organ donation system in Scotland to ensure respect of the deceased’s own wishes.

In response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, which closes today (14th March), the Humanist Society Scotland have voiced concerns on how the current system allows people’s wishes to be ignored after their death.

Currently the opt-in system controversially allows for family members to oppose the donation of organs even if the deceased has already expressed a wish that this happen on their death. HSS are calling for a soft opt out system with appropriate safeguards.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Commenting on their call for change, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland Gordon MacRae said:

“We support the proposal for a soft-opt out system for organ donation. As Humanists we value the autonomy of an individual over their own body and beliefs. No person should be subject to decisions based on another individual’s religious or spiritual life stance.

“It is concerning to many of our members and other registered organ donors that their express wishes in relation to Organ Donation or whole body donation, can be overturned after their death.

“Greater weight should be given to clear advance wishes expressed prior to death whether that be in a will, through organ donation registration or any other formally agreed procedure.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. The Humanist Society Scotland exists to support people to live an ethical life along Humanist values of empathy, and rationalism. We campaign for an ethical, rational and secular Scotland. HSS has over 14,000 members and carries out 3,000 Humanist Funerals and the weddings of 3,200 Humanist members.
  2. The full response of the society to the organ donation consultation can be accessed here.
  3. The Scottish Government Consultation can be accessed here
  4. For interviews and queries contact HSS Campaigns and Communications Manager Fraser Sutherland on 07477 692109 or



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