Changes to organ and tissue donation

On 18 January 2021, the law for organ and tissue donation is changing in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act will make it possible for more Nova Scotians to donate their organs and tissues.

This change will help Nova Scotians waiting for a transplant get one sooner by increasing organ and tissue donation. It’s a change that will change many lives. When you consider that 1 donor can save or improve the lives of over 80 people, it’s a change that will change lives.

Registering your decision

You can register your decision to be a donor and donate all or some of your organs and tissues after death. If you don’t want to donate your organs and tissues when the legislation changes on 18 January 2021, you can opt out before the changes take effect.

Whatever you choose, let the people in your life know your decision to ensure it is honoured. Families will continue to be consulted about their loved ones' wishes regarding organ and tissue donation.

Starting on 18 January 2021, if you don't register your donation decision and you are eligible, you will be seen as having consented to organ and tissue donation after death. This is called ‘deemed consent’ under the new Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act.

Next steps

  1. Decide – Learn more about organ and tissue donation and make your decision.
  2. Discuss – Talk with those closest to you so they can support your decision.
  3. Register – Find out more about registering and changing your donation decision.

What the change means

When the change takes effect on 18 January 2021, people who don’t register to be a donor or opt out and are eligible will be seen as having consented to donating their organs and tissues after death. This is referred to as deemed consent.

Those eligible will be referred to the Organ and Tissue Donation Program to determine if they are clinically suitable candidates for donation.

Those who are not eligible for deemed consent include:

  • people 18 or younger
  • people without decision-making capacity
  • people who have lived in Nova Scotia less than 12 months

A person who is not eligible for deemed consent may still be able to be a donor if they, or someone on their behalf, consents to donation. For example, Nova Scotians 16 and over can indicate their wish to be a donor through their Health Card renewal process.

Why the law is changing

Organ and tissue donation saves lives, and gives hope to those waiting for life-saving and life-enhancing transplants. One donor can save or improve the lives of over 80 people.

Donated organs – such as heart, liver, kidneys and lungs – save the lives of those who need them.

Donated tissues – such as skin, bone, tendons, heart valves and corneas – can restore sight and mobility, help people recover from cancer surgery, and save the lives of burn patients and those who are critically ill with heart disease.

This change will help Nova Scotians waiting for a transplant get one sooner by increasing organ and tissue donation. It’s a change that will change lives.

Where to find more information

Legacy of Life is Nova Scotia’s source for information about what organ and tissue donation is and how it works, as well as clear answers to common questions and misunderstandings.