Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. organ donor policy 'less than ideal' says national group

The Canadian Transplant Association is reacting after criticism of Newfoundland and Labrador's organ donor policy, saying the province should take another look at its protocol.
The family of Derek Park, seen here with his grandchildren, say they decided not to donate his organs because he would have to be flown far from home without them by his side.

The Canadian Transplant Association says the Newfoundland and Labrador government should take another look at its organ donor policy.

"Anything that prevents organ donation is not OK with me," the association's national president, Dr. Aubrey Goldstein, said in an email to CBC. 

Goldstein was asked to comment after a family from York Harbour, on Newfoundland's west coast, complained they wanted to donate a loved one's organs, but a new transplant policy put up barriers.

Derek Park's family was told his body, on life support, would have to be flown 800 kilometres to St. John's where a transplant team would retrieve his organs and then send him back to Corner Brook.

There was no room on the air ambulance for relatives, so they would have to make their own way across the province to be with Park in his final hours. 

They decided not to donate his organs.

​The national transplant association told CBC that it realizes not all hospitals have the resources needed to do organ retrieval.  But it said in Ontario, surgical teams do travel to smaller hospitals if they are a long way from a transplant centre.

Health and Community Services Minister Steve Kent says it isn't practical to harvest donor organs in all parts of the province. (CBC)

Goldstein, a medical doctor with experience in the emergency room and continuing care, received a life-saving liver transplant in 1998.

He described the N.L. situation as "less than ideal."

His advice to the health minister here; "I think this policy needs to be rethought. Or the methods by which it's accomplished revisited."

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