Alberta hopes organ registry will improve donation rates

Albertans willing to donate their organs will soon be able to do so online or at a registry office.

Donation rate now one of lowest in Canada

Double-lung recipient turns organ registry news conference into dance party 0:56

Albertans willing to donate their organs will soon be able to sign up online or at a registry office.

"This bill will make a big difference in the lives of many Albertans waiting for transplants," said Nancy MacDonald, with the Alberta Donates LIFE Coalition. "The sad fact is that many Albertans on organ donation wait lists die before a donor is found."

Once the law is passed, Albertans renewing their driver’s licences or other pieces of identification will be asked if they consent to the donation of his or her tissue, organs or body.

Helene Campbell (front), a double-lung transplant patient, listens to the announcement that Alberta is establishing an organ and tissue donation registry. (John Archer/ CBC)

If they agree, the registry agent will send the information to the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Agency.

Albertans will also be able to directly register online.

The information will then be saved in an online registry that can be accessed by the health system.

Right now, consent to donate needs to be provided in writing, dated, signed and witnessed, to be legally binding.

That has left the province with one of the lowest organ donation rates in Canada.

Alberta used to have 17 donors per one million of the population, but that has fallen over the past decade to less than 10.

Ontario and British Columbia, both of which have online registries, had donor rates of 16.3 donors per million and 11.8 donors per million, respectively, in 2011.

About 75 people in the province die each year waiting for a transplant.

The new agency should be up by 2015 and fully integrated into the government's computer system within three to five years, officials said.



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