Saskatchewan watching organ donation debate, but no plans to change

Nova Scotia will be the first jurisdiction in North America to have a presumed consent law for organ donation. File / Global News

The Government of Saskatchewan has no plans to implement policy that presumes all adults will donate their organs upon death. Provincial Health Minister Dustin Duncan said Saskatchewan will stick with its current opt-in model versus an opt-out method.

“We’re not, at this point, considering moving to presumed consent. We’ll be watching though, the debate around the country and around the world, as more and more jurisdictions consider this,” Duncan said.

A group called Manitobans for Presumed Consent raised the issue Wednesday in Winnipeg. They proposed that instead of having Manitobans sign on to become donors, all adults should be presumed to be donors unless they indicate otherwise.

READ MORE: Manitoba group pushing for presumed consent in organ donations

People in Saskatchewan can express their preference for organ donation by placing a sticker on their health cards.

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However, both methods give the final say to family members.

“Not everybody’s going to have their health card on them when something tragic happens,” Duncan said.

The Canadian Transplant Society reports 90 per cent of Canadians support organ and tissue donation, but under 25 per cent have formalized plans to donate.

Presumed consent organ donation legislation is in place in both Spain and Croatia, which are two of the top countries in the world for organ donations from the deceased.

Joyce Van Deurzen, executive director of the Saskatchewan branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, said presumed consent “addresses the wrong problem.”

“It would consume resources to put presumed consent into place that could be better used to fund hospital systems,” Van Deurzen said.

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One organ donor can save up to eight lives and one tissue donor can make a difference in the lives of as many as 75 people, according to the Ministry of Health.

At the end of December 2015, there were 105 people in Saskatchewan awaiting a kidney transplant and 80 people waiting for a cornea transplant.

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