Should opting in for organ donation be automatic?

VANCOUVER – Is it time to drastically change our system for organ donation and save more lives?

Nova Scotia has re-opened that debate by considering becoming the first province to make organ donation automatic.

Right now, people have to register as organ donors or doctors have to approach grieving families in the hospital with the difficult question of donation.

Earlier this week Global BC teamed up with the Transplant Society to register 48,000 people in 48 hours. More than 5,000 people signed up.

Nova Scotia is going to look at making organ donation automatic unless people opt out. Their government says people there have asked officials to at least study the idea.

In B.C., the Transplant Society says it has looked into the idea and at this point, it’s not thinking of pushing it.

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“When we’ve had chats with people and looked at it very carefully, we don’t think it represents good evidence and evidence that it works,” says┬áDr. Greg Grant, BC Transplant Provincial Executive Director. “And if you look at Spain where they’ve got the highest donation rates, they have presumed consent but they don’t apply it. They ask every single patient’s family whether or not they can be a donor.”

“So when you talk to them, they say presumed consent is not a big factor in what it is that they do.”

Critics of so-called presumed consent are worried that it would be a violation of civil rights, taking away a person’s right to choose what is done with their body after death. They also point out that countries that already have presumed consent rules don’t automatically have a large number of additional donors.

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