April 18, 2019 12:06 pm

Riverview man calls on New Brunswick to pass organ donation legislation

WATCH: A New Brunswick man left waiting for a kidney donation for three years says the province needs to increase the number of donors. Callum Smith has more.


As he needs over 17 litres of dialysis each night, Dan McLaughlin is hoping New Brunswick will take another step towards increasing organ donations.

The Riverview man has been waiting for a kidney donation for almost three years, and is calling on the provincial government to pass similar legislation to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in North America last week to pass legislation which presumes consent for organ donation.

READ MORE: Organ donation pilot project could increase N.B. donations by 30 per cent: health officials

Other areas around the world with similar legislation, he says, have seen 20 to 30 per cent increases in donations.

Dan McLaughlin and his daughter Marie

Callum Smith / Global News

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Once it becomes law, you’d need to opt-out rather than opt-in.

“Give or take a few dollars, it costs about the same for one year of dialysis as it does for an organ transplant and a lifetime of medications,” McLaughlin said, adding that the fluids can cost between $50,000 to $100,000 per year.

He says it’s critical to have important conversations with family to make your wishes of donating clear.

New Brunswick’s Department of Health says presumed consent for organ donation is ”well worth considering” and is reviewing Nova Scotia legislation.

WATCH: Nova Scotia legislature passes presumed consent law for organ donation

McLaughlin says he has already written to the province’s finance minister, and is composing a letter for the health minister to push the topic further.

In February, New Brunswick’s health authorities announced the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre would begin a pilot project, accepting organ donations following cardiovascular deaths.

McLaughlin says that was one step and that opt-out can be another, but there needs to be more education and information.

“In 2018, according to Horizon Health, only 11 people donated organs,” he said. “Only 11 New Brunswickers donated organs, and that’s a rate that’s quite a bit below the national average. Ninety per cent of Canadians believe in organ donation, yet only about 20 per cent have signed their cards.”

Maybe a glimmer of hope? His daughter, Marie, has just learned she has type ‘O’ blood, so she’s started the process to try to donate.

Marie McLaughlin, Dan’s daughter, says she would love to be able to donate a kidney to her father to help save his life

Callum Smith / Global News

“He’s gave me a great life and I know that him and mom still have so many plans to do,” she says. “I want to be able to keep giving him like the great life that he’s had in the past.”

McLaughlin says the odds his daughter can donate to him might not be great, with factors such as age, lack of medical history and chances of getting diabetes stacked against her.

READ MORE: Toronto hospital performs first paired liver transplant with living donors in North America

He says over 100 people have reached out since his call for a donation, but only six made it through the entire screening process, only to get denied for one reason or another.

So while the chances might not be great, he and his daughter are hoping for the best.

“Dad isn’t a fan of me wanting to donate just because I’m so young and I’m his only daughter,” Marie says. “But at the same time, I do want someone to walk me down the aisle.”

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