Ontario may follow Nova Scotia's lead in adopting 'presumed consent' for organ donation
Ontario New Democratic Party Health Critic France Gelinas has put forward a bill that could change the way organ donors are registered in Ontario.
The bill is named after Peter Kormos, an NDP MPP who was a longtime champion of organ donor registration. Kormos passed away in March 2013.
The proposed legislation would automatically assume Ontario residents consent to being an organ donor, unless a person actively “opts out” of the registry.
As the system stands currently, people who wish to become organ donors after their death must register with BeADonor.ca .
At a news conference held Wednesday morning, Gelinas said there are more than 1600 people in Ontario waiting for organ transplants.
“Eighty-five per cent of Ontarians want to be organ donors but only 34 per cent opt in,” she said.
Gelinas hopes changing the system will help those in desperate need of life-saving organ transplants.
“We call it a soft opt out, because there are many opportunities to opt out up to the point of death,” she said.
The option to opt-out of organ donations would be given during driver’s licence or health card renewal. Residents who wish not to participate would also be able to contact Service Ontario.
Two-time liver transplant recipient and activist George Marcello said he supports Gelinas’ efforts. Marcello is seeking a kidney and said that years of anti-rejection medications have taken a toll on his own.
“When I got my transplant in 1995, just prior to that I was looking into why Canada had a shortage (of donor organs),” Marcello said. “And I saw the model that Spain was using and they were getting ahead of everybody else in donations.”
Spain, Belgium, France and Israel are just some of the countries that already have presumed consent. Next summer, Nova Scotia will become the first province in Canada to switch to the “opt out” system.
Organ donation and tissue donation agency Trillium Gift of Life Network is not actively supporting presumed consent, instead focusing on the importance of education.
“There has been no clear evidence to support the assumption that presumed consent increases the number of organ donors,” the agency said in a statement.
Gelinas first presented her bill at Queen’s Park in the spring and is using the summer to gather support for it. Debate on the bill will resume in late October.