Fredericton (May 10, 2023) – The Official Opposition has introduced an Act to Amend the Human Tissue Gift Act with the goal of increasing organ and tissue donation in New Brunswick. The Act proposes amendments that could see New Brunswick become the second jurisdiction in Canada, following Nova Scotia, to operate its human tissue donation program under deemed consent. Under current legislation, consent for organ and tissue donation may be given when New Brunswickers apply for or renew their Medicare registration.
“This legislation could significantly diminish wait time for organ and tissue donations in New Brunswick,” says Jean-Claude D’Amours, MLA for Edmundston – Madawaska Centre. “There are currently 59 New Brunswickers on the waiting list for transplants. The stress and anxiety that families undergo during the wait for a positive match is extraordinary. We have an opportunity to provide hope back to these families and for every person on the list, now and in the future. We urge the Government to move forward with our amendments and be a leader in our country.”
Proposed amendments would allow for the creation of a registry to record consents or refusals under the Act. The intention is that New Brunswickers aged 19 and over, who are not exempt, will be considered for organ and tissue donation, unless they opt out. New Brunswickers would register a decision to consent to donation of all or some organs and tissues (also called ‘express consent’) or opt out of donation. Those who choose not to register a decision will still be considered a potential donor, with a few exceptions. Under the proposed legislation, their decision will be deemed or considered to have been given. This is referred to as deemed consent.
“If this legislation could have reduced my wait from years down to months, I could have been living my life instead of counting the days” says Christian Carrier who received a double lung transplant 5 years ago after waiting for 3 years on the transplant wait list. “Receiving my lung donation allowed me to breathe easier in more way than one… it meant I could start living my life instead of watching it pass me by. I hope all members can come together to move this legislation forward and give back days, months and even years to waitlist patients.”
“Time is of the essence here. This legislation will help reduce the waiting period for people and families and hopefully provide some much-needed reassurance to them while they wait,” says Liberal Leader Susan Holt. “As a constructive and solution-oriented Official Opposition, our team is providing actionable solutions to alleviate the pressures and waiting times in the health system.”
“When you’re waiting for an organ transplant, the costs are exorbitant. In conversations with former Premier of Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil about their Organ & Tissue Deemed Consent legislation, he noted that dialysis costs upwards of $100,000 a year per patient. This bill will be cost efficient for taxpayers, and more importantly, it will have a positive impact on our province well into the future,” says Bill Gandy, a Saint John resident currently on dialysis awaiting a transplant. “This is the type of healthcare advancements we need more of: recipients get their lives back and the donors’ legacy lives on – it’s a no brainer.”