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New bill proposing opt-out system for organ donation

There are many people in this country and especially in this province that are waiting for some sort of an organ transplant. There are many people who have had transplant surgery and are waiting for a donor and who are currently on a waiting lists that will match up for an organ transplant.

Earlier this year, the NDP Health critic France Gelinas tabled the Peter Kormos Memorial Act (Trillium Gift of Life Network Amendment). If passed, it would change Ontario’s system to be an opt-out system, rather than an opt-in system. By moving to an opt-out system, we can continue to respect people’s wishes, while increasing the chances that those on the waitlist will find their match.

MPP, France Gelinas is calling on the Ford government to follow the United Kingdom’s lead in adopting a soft opt-out system for organ donation and pass this new legislation.

According to the Trillium Gift of Life Network, the government agency responsible for organ and tissue donations, more than 1,600 people in Ontario are waiting for an organ.

Someone dies every three days because a donor organ cannot be found in time.

Many people are in support of what is called a soft opt-out policy for organ donations, meaning that unless people 18 years of age or older have stated they do not want their organ donated when they die, consent will be presumed. A similar policy is set to come into place in the UK next year.

There are many opportunities to opt-out, including at or near the time of death. France Gelinas feels acceptance is growing to change the rules around organ donation, moving beyond the system of filling out a consent form. She is trying very hard to keep this issue out front in order to get more folks involved and supportive of this possible new bill that could eventually become legislation.

In 2006, the then MPP Frank Klees also tried to pass a private members bill that addressed this same issue back in 2006 and Mr. Klees was a conservative, which is basically the same policy that the NDP wants to put forward. In many cases this very serious issue has support across party lines and might just have some leg’s this time to get it through the house at Queen’s Park.

With this issue of organ donation and how it has been handled begs the question are we ready for this change?
Once folks really understand what this possible new legislation is trying to change that when something happens to you, unless stated otherwise, your body parts would be donated to someone who is in need. This means that the state or in our case the province has the right over your body and how your body parts would be used/donated to someone in need.

Deceased organ donations become a consideration only after there is a catastrophic injury-usually to the brain-and all treatment options have been exhausted. Potential organ donors include, for example, trauma and drowning victims, and people who have sustained a catastrophic stroke or a prolonged cardiac arrest.

Before 2006, organ donations from deceased donors came only after neurological determination of death, also known as “brain dead” or NDD. A patient is declared dead after rigorous tests conclude there has been complete and irreversible loss of all brain function.

This issue has been a talking point in many countries, especially for Belgium and Spain and several others in taking steps and pushing the envelope on a dialogue that has been ongoing for close to 20 years.

Should Ontario be next, where organ and tissue transplants would save so many lives, presumed consent should it be the norm, not the exception. That is the million-dollar question and we all need to seriously think about this. Do we owe this to our families, our community, our health care system, and ourselves…we all need to give this priority?

Donation is an important part of end-of-life care and more people are comfortable with conversations about life and death.

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