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New rules for organ donors

The province introduced legislation yesterday aimed at strengthening the wishes of organ donors’ upon their death.

The province introduced legislation yesterday aimed at strengthening the wishes of organ donors’ upon their death.

The Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, tabled yesterday on behalf of Health Minister Maureen MacDonald, would increase the amount of information given to Nova Scotians considering organ donation.

The hope is that, by providing all relevant details, there will be no ambiguity as to what a donor is signing up for.

“The new law strengthens the indication on the health card that, by indicating you’re a donor, that wish should be respected; that the autonomy of that individual making that decision should be respected,” said Dean Hirtle, director of legislative policy with the Department of Health.

In April, MacDonald revealed that even though an individual signs a donor card indicating its wishes, health officials have been asking family for consent after the individual’s death. In some cases, officials did not broach the subject, for fear of further upsetting a family already in distress.

“Right now the legislation prohibits the overriding of a person’s wish by family, yet we do that all the time if family really object,” MacDonald said back in April.

But the new law would go a step further than simply respecting registered donors’ wishes.

All candidates deemed medically suitable for donation, whether or not they signed up for donation, will be referred for an assessment by doctors.

Following a positive referral, doctors would then discuss the possibility of donation with the family and decision makers.

 
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