Newspaper article The Canadian Press

N.S. Set to Be First in North America with Presumed Consent for Organ Donations

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

N.S. Set to Be First in North America with Presumed Consent for Organ Donations

Article excerpt

N.S. law would presume consent for organ donations

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HALIFAX - The words tattooed on Cindy Ryan's left forearm are a constant reminder of the importance of organ donation in her life: "Recycle Yourself -- Together We Live On."

A two-time liver transplant recipient, Ryan was on hand Tuesday for the unveiling of proposed legislation that would make Nova Scotia the first jurisdiction in North America to adopt presumed consent around organ donation.

Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia would be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out.

Ryan said the legislation is needed, even in a province with some of the highest donor registration rates in the country.

"I'm hoping that it increases the number of donors in our province ... so that more people can benefit from the gift that I've been given," Ryan, of Westville, N.S., told reporters.

Premier Stephen McNeil, who sponsored the bill, said the goal is to ensure there are more potential organ donors in order to save lives.

Under the legislation, families will continue to be consulted about their loved ones' wishes regarding organ or tissue donation.

Those under 19 and people without decision-making capacity would be exempt, and would only be considered as donors if a parent, guardian or alternate decision-maker opts them in.

McNeil said the legislation won't take effect for at least a year to 18 months in order to allow time for planning, education and public awareness.

"This is not by itself going to solve or going to increase the number of organ donations within our province," said McNeil. "We know that it will require some support."

Ryan was hospitalized in October 2013 after a virus attacked her liver. In a coma and with only four weeks to live, she was quickly saved within 24 hours of her arrival at the transplant unit of a Halifax hospital. …

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