Sask. to 're-evaluate' discussions around presumed consent and organ donations

As Saskatchewan announced a new official day to promote organ donation, the health minister said the province will continue to consider presumed consent.

Government declares April 7 as Green Shirt Day, in honour of Humboldt Bronco whose organs saved six lives

MLA's in Sask. wore green shirts while the government announced Green Shirt Day would fall on April 7 every year. Green Shirt Day was initially conceived by the family of Logan Boulet, who's organ donation saved six lives. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

As Saskatchewan announced a new official day to promote organ donation, the health minister said the province will continue to consider presumed consent.

Nova Scotia's provincial government announced they would be moving towards presumed consent for organ donations. Former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall previously said the province would be moving in that direction as well, but legislation has yet to materialize.

Provincial health minister Jim Reiter said Wednesday that several things have happened over the years which led to the delay in introducing presumed consent legislation.

"We've never ruled that out," Reiter said.

"We've said that we're going to re-evaluate it, we'll consider it again, but that there were other steps we've needed to do in the meantime anyway to encourage organ donation."

Reiter said once all of the programs the government wants to introduce are in place, they would look at re-evaluating their thoughts on presumed consent.

He said the province is playing catch-up in terms of the work they're doing around organ donations.

"We've been too slow on this all along," Reiter said. "The organ donor doctors, the registry, all those kind of things, we've needed to catch-up. There's never been anything done in Saskatchewan to that extent."

Health Minister Jim Reiter said Green Shirt Day was coined in honour of Logan Boulet and will be marked on April 7. He encouraged school and workplace students and staff to wear green shirts on April 8 to honour the day. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

The health minister said his office already has a call into the Nova Scotia government about having a conversation with their provincial health minister.

He said the province's justice ministers are likely to have discussions about the legislation there and that he wouldn't be surprised to see Premiers Scott Moe and Stephen McNeil engage in discussions as well.

"We're very excited about that announcement, and we're going to be following it along very closely," Reiter said.

Charlotte L'oste-Brown, a double lung transplant recipient, said the idea of presumed consent is great.

She said didn't know all of the ins and outs of the new provincial registry or Nova Scotia's legislation, but that presumed consent has worked well elsewhere.

Charlotte L'oste-Brown encouraged people on the fence about organ donation to check with people 'in the know.' (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Province declares Green Shirt Day

Saskatchewan has declared April 7 as Green Shirt Day.

The announcement was made on Wednesday. Reiter said the day was declared in honour of Logan Boulet, who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

"Rates of organ donation across Saskatchewan have been too low, for far too long," Reiter said.

Boulet's organs saved six lives. Reiter said it was those selfless acts that spurred the decision to declare Green Shirt Day.

Dr. Balraj Brar said donor physicians and co-ordinators who recently started their jobs in the province have made a difference when it comes to organizing the framework for the donation process in Sask. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

Doctor Balraj Brar, an organ donation physician, said he's seen a big change in public awareness and education around organ donation since Boulet's life-giving donation.

"People are having these tough conversations, and that's really the message we're trying to get out there, especially with this Green Shirt Day event," Brar said. "People just need to talk with their family members and loved ones about organ donation."


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