Organ donor presumed consent needed, says advocate
A longtime advocate for organ donation is calling on the New Brunswick government to adopt a presumed consent law to help boost the number of donors.
Presumed consent would automatically list everyone as an organ donor unless they opted out," said John Barry, a Saint John lawyer who was the first president of the Kidney Foundation in New Brunswick in the early seventies.
"Our numbers right now are disgraceful," he said.
About one-third of New Brunswickers are currently registered organ donors.
"And that's notwithstanding the efforts of the province on the opt-in program," said Barry.
"It started with our drivers' licence, they're doing it now on the Medicare cards, but the fact is, it's still not being an effective program, so we need a more radical approach."
Barry's comments come on the heels of a new report on organ donation by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. It shows the number of organ donations has stagnated across the country in recent years and the Atlantic provinces are no exception.
Meanwhile, wait lists are growing as the population ages and the need for organs outpaces the supply.
In New Brunswick, only seven people donated their organs after death last year, resulting in 28 organ transplants, according to local health officials.
Many European countries have presumed consent, said Barry.
The most successful program in Spain sees 35 donors per million deaths, he said.
Canada's rate is just 12.