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Sask. government opens applications to develop organ donor registry

Saskatchewan to launch new organ donor registry after coronavirus pressures end
Saskatchewan’s organ donor registry should launch in the coming months once the stress of the novel coronavirus subsides. David Baxter / Global News

Saskatchewan’s health ministry is looking for someone to develop an organ donor registry, as promised in the 2019/20 budget.

A negotiated request for proposals (NRFP) was posted on the SaskTenders website Thursday morning, calling for interested applicants.

The goal of the registry is to improve the province’s organ donor rates, which the Saskatchewan government acknowledges are below the Canadian average.

According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the province saw 14.6 deceased donors per million people in 2017. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) says the Canadian average was 20.6 deceased donors per million people in 2018.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan government developing organ donor registry

In March, Health Minister Jim Reiter said the goal was to have the registry active by the end of the fiscal year. At the time, the province earmarked $558,000 to set up the registry.

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The Ministry of Health now expects the registry will be online in mid-June. In an emailed response, a ministry spokesperson said they felt it would be beneficial to take the extra time to ensure the registry can meet long term needs.

Currently, potential organ donors make their wishes known by placing a sticker on their health card and informing their next of kin that they want to donate their organs.

However, once a potential donor dies, their family has to consent to the organ donation.

READ MORE: More than 200 Canadians died while waiting for organ transplants in 2018: report

The province is hopeful that having a registry will improve consent rates, provide support for families making the decision, ease information access for healthcare
providers and increase donor rates.

A requirement listed in the tender is for the registry to be “easily and efficiently” convertible to an opt-out registry system if the Saskatchewan government ever adopts a presumed consent model for organ donation.

The ministry spokesperson added there are no immediate plans for Saskatchewan to adopt a presumed consent organ donation model. The above requirement is purely to make sure the system can handle any potential changes in the future.