Organ Donation: A Bill on “Presumed Consent” in NS

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The government of Nova Scotia on Tuesday tabled an organ donation bill that would make Nova Scotia the first federated state in North America to adopt “presumed consent” for this gift of life.

In this province where donor registration rates are already among the highest in the country, the Liberal bill provides that all residents of Nova Scotia would be considered organ and tissue donors, unless that they themselves have withdrawn from the program.

Families, however, would continue to be consulted on the wishes expressed by their loved ones. On the other hand, young people under the age of 19 and those unable to decide would only be considered as donors if a parent or guardian allowed it.

Prime Minister Stephen McNeil, who sponsored the bill, said the legislation would not come into force for at least a year, or even 18 months, to allow time for planning, education and training. public awareness.

Dr. Stephen Beed, Medical Director of the Provincial Gift of Life program, explained that the alleged consent was suggested some 15 years ago by colleagues in the transplantation sector. A similar bill was passed in 2010 by the former NDP government of the province, but the law was not enacted.

Dr. Beed explained that the purpose of presumed consent is to ensure that donations reach the level seen in European countries such as Spain and the United Kingdom.

“An alleged consent system elsewhere in the world has generally resulted in an approximate 20, 30, or even 35% increase in the donation rate,” he said.

According to provincial authorities, 21 Nova Scotians became organ donors in 2018, while 110 people donated tissues such as the cornea or heart valves. Currently, 110 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Nova Scotia.