Saskatchewan government developing organ donor registry

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WATCH ABOVE: An organ donor registry is in the works for Saskatchewan – Mar 21, 2019

The Saskatchewan government is working to create a provincial organ donor registry.

As part of its budget on Wednesday, the province announced it will spend $558,000 to set up the system.

READ MORE: ‘The right balance’: Saskatchewan delivers balanced budget

“In Canada right now legally, families still have the option to opt-out even if it was their loved ones’ wishes to donate. I’m told that registries that are in operation that in those cases 90 per cent of families accept what the wishes were. Those without registries is less than 50 per cent,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said.

The registry is expected to be launched before the end of the fiscal year.

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Saskatchewan’s rate of organ donation from deceased donors was nearly 15 donors per million population in 2017.

The province has not yet ruled out presumed consent, according to Reiter.

“There’s a lot of other initiatives we’re going to try. We’re going to see how well that works and at some point, when those are up and running, we’ll reevaluate and decide whether presumed consent is a path we want to go down or not,” Reiter explained.

Reiter said organ donation was brought to the forefront following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

“It just seemed like now was a great time to try to build on that,” Reiter said.

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos families await sentencing for truck driver: ‘It has to make a difference’

Logan Boulet was one of 16 people killed last April when the Broncos hockey team bus collided with a semi-truck.

“It makes us feel better that things are moving in a positive direction across the country and that online organ donor registration is becoming the norm,” said Logan’s father, Toby Boulet.

“I’m not a big fan of presumed consent. I’m happy with what the Saskatchewan government is doing by creating an online registry, where you have to make up your mind, you have to sit down, you have to have the kitchen table talk and then make a decision on your own.”

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“It’s about people making decisions in their lives about how they can be kind.”

Logan, who was just 21 when he lost his life, had made his wishes to be an organ donor known to his family. His heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and corneas saved or improved the lives of six people across Canada.

What followed became known as the “Logan Boulet effect,” where nearly 100,000 Canadians signed up to become organ donors after learning he had signed his own card.

Green Shirt Day on April 7 will be dedicated to promoting organ donation awareness while honouring the “Logan Boulet effect.”

READ MORE: ‘Be a giver, not a taker’: Parents of Humboldt Bronco Logan Boulet promote Green Shirt Day, organ donation in Vancouver

Saskatoon resident Monica Goulet, 62, was diagnosed with stage four kidney disease in 2011.

Her right kidney was removed when she was 26-years-old, but currently, her left kidney is functioning at five per cent.

She’s been on the kidney waitlist since 2015, but was removed twice because of health problems. Five people volunteered to be a donor but didn’t match.

“You have to have a perfect match in order for it to work for the transplant,” Goulet said.

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This past year, Goulet found a perfect match. She will receive a kidney from her nephew on March 26.

“When I found out he was a match, I almost couldn’t believe it,” Goulet said.

“My heart is bursting with gratitude. I can’t imagine a greater thing in the world than somebody that’s willing to help you to stay alive by undergoing their own surgery.”

Goulet said while the organ donor registry is a good first step for the province, she wants more be done.

“I still want to see a mandatory program in the province, where people have to opt-out, as opposed to opting in to become an organ donor,” Goulet said.

-With files from Emily Mertz

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