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Poll finds 'definite appetite' for presumed organ donation system in Canada

Last Updated Aug 21, 2019 at 8:50 am PDT

(Source: iStock)

Poll finds more than 60 per cent of Canadians support an opt-out system for organ and tissue donation

B.C. sees the highest level of support for an opt-out system

Nova Scotia passed legislation for an Active Donor Registration system which will take effect in mid-to-late 2020

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As Nova Scotia looks to become the first province with presumed consent for organ and tissue donation, other provinces may have reason to follow suit.

A recent poll from Research Co. suggests most respondents support an “Active Donor Registration” system, which considers every person over the age of 18 an organ and tissue donor after death, unless they opt-out.

“There’s definitely a high level of support for this — it’s 63 per cent across Canada, and in British Columbia it climbs to 66 per cent, so there’s definitely an appetite for something like this to happen,” pollster Mario Canseco explained.

B.C. sees the highest level of support for this opt-out system, according to the poll, followed by Ontario.

“What is quite striking is usually we have certain areas of the country where ideas like this one can be more controversial, particularly in Alberta because of most of the religious situations that they have over there,” Canseco said. “And we still see a scenario where more than half of Canadians in every single province, both genders, all three age groups, are supportive of this idea.”

When Nova Scotia announced it would be moving towards presumed consent back in April, B.C.’s Health Minister said he had no plans to do that here, for now.

Canseco notes there are countries around the world where this type of system has already been implemented.

“And there’s so many differences when you look at the actual outcomes,” he said. “For example, in Austria, they have a system that is opt-out, and 99 per cent of the organs are given to somebody who needs them.”

The situation, however, is a bit different in neighbouring Germany, which has not adopted a similar system, Canseco adds.

“They don’t have the same system, and only part of the per cent of organs that are eligible make it to somebody who needs them,” he said. “So it’s definitely something that could benefit those who are on very long waiting lists for organs in Canada.”

According to the Research Co. survey, about a quarter of Canadians are opposed to their provinces bringing in an organ and tissue donation opt-out system, while 13 per cent of respondents say they’re undecided.

“I have a feeling that if we had asked something like this three or four decades ago, the numbers would have been very different,” Canseco added.

Nova Scotia’s new legislation is expected to take effect in mid-to-late 2020.