Nova Scotia: North America’s First “Opt-Out” Organ Donation Program

January 21, 2021 Doreen So Elder Law, Ethical Issues, General Interest, Health / Medical, In the News, News & Events, Uncategorized Tags: , , , 0 Comments

 

 

 

 

Who is ready for some good news?  Our firm has been interested in the issue of organ donation for some time now.  In 2012, we blogged about whether P.E.I. may be the first province in Canada to automatically enroll all of its people as organ donors until you chose to actively “opt-out”.  In 2014 and 2019, we blogged about Nova Scotia’s efforts in this regard.

Today, we are happy to report that this is now the new reality in Nova Scotia as of January 18, 2021.

The Human Organ Tissue and Donation Act was passed in April, 2019.  The Act, when it came into effect this Monday, meant that everyone in Nova Scotia are now considered to a potential organ donor until they “opt-out”.  This new “opt-out” system is the first of its kind in North America according to the Huffington Post. Ontario, like everywhere else, has an “opt-in” program where you have to actively sign up in order to be considered as a potential organ donor whereas the “opt-out” system is the opposite of that.  Nova Scotia is hoping that this will dramatically increase the rate of organ donation in the province like the 35% increase that has been noted in certain European countries.

In order to balance and respect the wishes of each individual, the director of the organ donation program has indicated that the known wishes of an individual will be respected even if he/she has not formally opted out.

This is an issue that is personally meaningful to me because of the statistics surrounding organ donors and organ recipients of colour.  People of colour tend to be underrepresented within “opt-in” systems of organ donation.  According to the Gift of Life, while race and ethnicity is not determinative of a match, a match is more likely to be found within one’s own ethnic community because of compatible blood types and tissue markers.  60% of patients waiting for a transplant are from communities of colour.  I, myself, am registered with the Gift of Life and I can attest to how easy and painless it was to sign up.

Thanks for reading!

Doreen So

 

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