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

Amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, Saskatchewan health officials are working toward the launch of a new organ donor registry.

Officials are “hopeful the registry will be ready to launch after the pressure on the health system, as a result of COVID-19, has subsided,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Health.

READ MORE: Sask. government opens applications to develop organ donor registry

Currently, people in Saskatchewan indicate their plans to donate organs and tissue by placing a sticker on their Saskatchewan Health Services card and filling out an intention to donate card. They must also discuss their wishes with family, as next of kin have the final say on whether a person’s organs are donated.

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The new registry will allow for a “formal declaration” of a person’s choice, the province said.

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“This will ensure peoples’ wishes are known and will be used by care providers in the donation program to inform conversations with families,” the statement said.

The new program will not overrule a family’s right to make the final decision.

READ MORE: Stay home and post selfie to mark Green Shirt Day under COVID-19, BC Transplant says

April 7 is known as Green Shirt Day, in honour of Logan Boulet. A member of the 2017-18 Humboldt Broncos, Boulet was one of the 16 people who died as a result of the team bus crash.

The 21-year-old’s decision to donate his organs saved six lives, while his story inspired more than 100,000 Canadians to sign up and become organ donors. The phenomenon is now referred to as the Logan Boulet Effect.

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the health ministry and Saskatchewan Health Authority from planning specific events or projects about Green Shirt Day.

READ MORE: Alberta presumed consent organ donation bill needs work, says dad of late Humboldt Broncos player

“However, our support of this important initiative has not diminished,” the ministry’s statement reads.

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Saskatchewan officials also continue to “assess the potential benefits” of the opt-out model called presumed consent, according to the ministry.

Officials said it is important for the new registry to be able to accommodate a change to a presumed consent model if the government chooses that policy in the future.