Nova Scotia is the first province in North America to move towards legalizing presumed consent organ donations to help with the lack of donations needed to save Canadian lives. While the bill’s specific details are still in the works, legislators are focused on ensuring that the new policy protects as many people as possible. With this bill, more people will be able to get the lifesaving operations they need.
Presumed consent for organ donation means that citizens must voluntarily opt-out of donating their organs, or otherwise their consent for it will be presumed. Often times, patients in need of an organ transplant are put on a waiting list or a lottery system because donations are so scarce. Even if a healthy organ can be found, the consent to harvest could have not been specified, so the wait continues.
The Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act outlines that all people in Nova Scotia would be considered a potential organ donor unless they have opted out. Even though the province has a relatively high donor registration rates in Canada, legislators argue that the bill is still needed. There can never be too many donors to save peoples’ lives, and the opt-out system ensures that the pool of donations is much larger. Those under 19-years-old and without decision-making capacities would be exempted from this policy, and they would only be considered as donors if the legal guardian opts them in.
Authorities have 12 to 18 months to iron out the details of the bill to ensure that it is the best it can be. Other than the opt-out system, the bill will include enhancements to the current system such as more training for front-line care workers to recognize potential organ donors. The government must also spend time educating the public on the implications of the new bill.
While the system won’t necessarily solve the lack of organ and tissue donations, it does help boost the number of potential donors. Especially for patients who have been on the wait list for so long, this bill is a step towards saving their lives. With less waiting and anxiety built up, patients can get a second chance at life after their life-saving procedure.