Tag: gift of life
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!
According to statistics posted on the Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Network website, there were a total of 1,546 persons waiting for an organ transplant as of June 20, 2016. According to beadonor.ca, 29% of Ontarians are registered organ donors, which is 3.5 million people out of an eligible population of 12.0 million.
I was touched when I read the recent commentary that was published by the Star, which was written by Beth and Emile Therien. Beth and Emile Therien are the parents of Sarah Beth Therien, who died 10 years ago and who revolutionized organ donation in Ontario.
When Sarah Beth died, organ donation was only available when a person had been declared brain dead. According to Sarah Beth’s parents, such deaths only occur in 1 to 2% of hospital deaths and Sarah Beth did not fit into this category of donors.
However, Beth and Emile Therien knew that their daughter was not coming back and they knew that she believed strongly in organ donation. With the help of the Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Network and the Ottawa Hospital, Sarah Beth became Canada’s first organ donor whose organs were donated after the withdrawal of life support, which is otherwise known as donation after cardiocirculatory death (“DCD“).
Since Sarah Beth’s death in 2006, 1,067 transplants have been performed in Ontario with organs that were donated after cardiocirculatory death. According to Beth and Emile Therien, one third of deceased donors in Ontario, today, are DCD donors.
Here on our Hull & Hull website, we have published a Toolkit for Legal Professionals which includes precedent letters to assist legal professionals in advising their clients about organ donation. This Toolkit was developed by Ian M. Hull, along with Sam Marr of Landy Marr Kats LLP, in consultation with the Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Network.
I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who is interested in registration, or in learning more about this topic in general, to visit https://www.beadonor.ca/ and https://www.giftoflife.on.ca/en/
Thanks for reading,