Organ and Tissue Donation Act: an overview
The Nova Scotia government has passed legislation to increase organ and tissue donation. When the legislation takes effect in mid-to-late 2020, every Nova Scotian will have the opportunity to be an organ and tissue donor unless they opt out.
Organ and tissue donation saves lives and gives hope to those waiting for life-saving transplants.
Nova Scotia has the highest rate of organ and tissue donor registration in the country, but donation rates could still be higher.
The new Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act will make it possible for all Nova Scotians to donate their organs and tissue, unless they opt out.
Under the new legislation, everyone is a potential donor, and will be automatically referred to donation programs to determine if they are good candidates. Mandatory referrals will give patients waiting for a transplant a better chance of getting one sooner by increasing available organs and tissue.
Nova Scotians will still have a choice. Anyone can opt out of becoming a donor at any time. Families will continue to be consulted about their loved ones’ wishes regarding organ or tissue donation.
No changes will happen until the legislation takes effect in mid-to-late 2020.
The new act will:
- make it possible for every eligible Nova Scotian to give the gift of life as an organ and tissue donor unless they opt out
- require all potential donors to be automatically referred to donation programs to determine if they are good candidates
- increase the organs and tissue available
There is no need to do anything until the legislation takes effect. When it does, Nova Scotians will be able to opt out. Details about how to opt out will be made available.
Families will continue to be consulted about their loved ones’ wishes regarding organ or tissue donation. It’s important to make your wishes about organ donation clear to your family.
People under 19 and people without decision-making capacity will be exempt, and will only be considered donors if a parent, guardian or substitute decision-maker opts them in.
The law will not apply to tourists or university students from other provinces or countries. It will apply to people who have resided in Nova Scotia for at least 12 months.
Organ and tissue donation
Organ donation includes kidneys, pancreas, heart, liver, lungs and small bowel.
Tissue donation includes cornea (tissue that covers the front of the eye), sclera (white part of the eye), skin, bones, tendons and heart valves.
A single organ donor can save up to 8 lives, and a single tissue donor can help up to 75 people.
You’re 6 times more likely to need a transplant than become an organ donor.