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Elected officials examine presumed consent to organ donation

Photo: Molly Riley Archives Associated Press Year in and year out, nearly 500 people can receive a transplant in Quebec.

Isabelle Porter in Quebec

January 29, 2024

  • Quebec

The Transplant Québec organization wants Parliament to launch a broad non-partisan consultation on organ donation as it did for assistance in dying. An exercise justified in his eyes by the poor “performance” of the province in this area.

“We really find ourselves at the back of the pack,” laments the general director of Transplant Québec, Martine Bouchard. Quebec, she says, is very poorly organized when it comes to organ donations, so much so that 47 people died on the waiting list last year.

Transplant Québec is one of the organizations that will be heard in Parliament starting Tuesday as part of a parliamentary commission aimed at “facilitating organ donation.”

Year in year, nearly 500 people can receive a transplant in Quebec. However, the rate of deceased donors in Quebec was only 16.7 per million inhabitants in 2021, compared to 19.1 across Canada or in France. In Spain and the United States, it exceeds 40 donors per million inhabitants.

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  • Organ donation slowly increasing among medically assisted dying providers

To increase donations, elected officials must examine this week the possibility of implementing the presumption of consent, a system under which it is people who do not want to donate their organs who would be responsible for reporting this during their lifetime.

So far, MPs have been open to change. In October, they unanimously adopted a motion in his favor presented by the MP for Pontiac, the liberal André Fortin.

Presumed consent does not guarantee anything

However, Ms. Bouchard emphasizes that presumed consent alone will not be enough to increase organ donation, particularly because the family can always refuse intervention upon death.

This is currently the case for people who consent to it. Even if they have clearly indicated it on their health insurance card, it is their loved ones who have the last word. “It can be “too much” for the family at the time of death. We will always respect the wishes of the family,” she said.

From the outset, the mechanism for indicating consent is a real obstacle course on an administrative level. This is why Transplant Québec is calling for a much larger project. Given the very delicate nature of the subject of default consent, the organization would like it to be the subject of a non-partisan consultation like that which took place on medical assistance in dying.

Surveys conducted by the organization show that the population is rather divided on presumed consent. “It’s really half and half. So, if this is what the government wants to move towards, it must be done in a public consultation. It was done with medical assistance in dying. »

Finally, the organization recommends that a law regulate organ donation in a specific way. He also calls for more financial resources, a structure similar to that of Héma-Québec and the creation of compulsory training for health personnel, but also the creation of awareness workshops for young people at the secondary level.

The parliamentary committee must continue its work until Thursday. In addition to Transplant Québec, researchers, medical associations and lawyers must make their voices heard.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116