Nova Scotia passes new organ (Opt-out) donation law

Compared to some European countries and even the USA, the rate of organ donation in Canada is very low. The country has only 20.9 donors for every million people. The picture is dramatic, as there are about 4,500 people waiting for a viable donor. With the coronavirus pandemic, there was a significant decrease in organ donation worldwide and, as a result, many transplants were not performed. Consulted, 90% of Canadians say they support organ donation, but in practice, less than 20% have plans to donate. Statistics show that a single organ donor can save up to 8 lives and a tissue donor can benefit up to 75 people.

In order to save more lives and streamline the donation process, the province of Nova Scotia has just passed a new law for organ and tissue donation. Effective January 18, the move will benefit residents of the region who are in line for a transplant and set a good example for the whole of Canada.

The main change in the law is in tacit consent as a donor, if a contrary position is not registered. For a conscious decision, the authorities suggest that each inhabitant of Nova Scotia take the following steps:

  • Decide. Try to find out about organ donation.
  • Argue. Talk to the people closest to you about your decision.
  • Register. Learn how to register and change your decision as a donor. All persons who do not demonstrate, and are eligible, will be considered to have consented to donate their organs and tissues after death. People aged 18 or under, those unable to decide and those who are in Nova Scotia less than 12 months old are not automatically considered eligible. Even if you are not eligible, a person can be a donor, if he or she, or someone on his behalf, consents to the donation. A young person aged 16 or over, for example, can indicate his desire to be a donor by renewing his health card.

The system, now implemented in Nova Scotia and known as “presumed consent”, is adopted in several countries. This model has been in force in Spain since 1979, being the leading country in organ transplants in the world with a rate of 43.4 donors for every million people. Nations like France, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands and Austria also have similar legislation.

In Brazil, it is not necessary to leave any documents to be a donor, but it is necessary to inform the family of your desire. The family authorizes and documents the organ’s release. Although there are more than 50 projects under analysis in the Federal Chamber, Brazilian law still requires authorization from the spouse or relative of legal age for the removal of tissues, organs, or body parts of the deceased person. The big problem is that 40% of families do not authorize the donation and the result is that more than 50 thousand Brazilians are waiting for transplant surgery.

Other information on the website