News release

New Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act Introduced

More Nova Scotians who want to be organ and tissue donors will have their wishes honoured and Nova Scotians on waiting lists for those donation may get transplants sooner, with a bill introduced today, Nov. 30.

"We know that waiting for an organ transplant is an emotionally and physically difficult experience," said ministerial assistant Gary Ramey, on behalf of Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. "Changes to this act will ensure the wishes of the donor are respected while bringing comfort and better health care for organ and tissue recipients."

The Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act replaces the Human Tissues Gift Act.

The new legislation requires that hospitals refer all potential candidates after a physician has determined the patient is going to die. This means the family will not be approached until after the potential donor's suitability has been established. Potential organ donors are usually people who die from a head injury or stroke and have died in a hospital on a respirator.

Corinne Corning, program manager with the Legacy of Life: Nova Scotia Organ and Tissue Donation Program, said the revised act will help ensure that more donors will have their wishes honoured and help extend the lives of others.

"It's important for all organ and tissue donors to discuss their wishes with their family," she said. "For those who have not registered their wishes on their health card, knowing what a family member wanted can help the family make an informed decision about donating."

Other changes to the act include:

  • recognizing common-law partners as a substitute decision maker
  • requiring consent for pre-death procedures such as ventilation and medications
  • requiring court authorization for a living donation if the donor does not have the capacity to give consent, such as when a relative is an ideal match for a recipient
  • requiring annual reports to the minister on the number of potential donors who are not referred, based on medical chart audits

There are 141 patients in Nova Scotia waiting for an organ transplant. Last year, there were 15 organ donors and 95 tissue donations.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

People waiting for organ and tissue transplants may get them sooner with a new bill introduced today (November 30th).

The legislation will require hospital staff to refer all potential donors to the organ and tissue programs.

The legislation will also ensure Nova Scotians who want to donate will have their wishes honoured.

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Media Contact:

John Muir
Department of Health 902-424-2583 E-mail: