In April 2019, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce legislation in which an adult will be considered as a potential candidate for organ and tissue donation unless they actively opt-out. Families will continue to be consulted to confirm a person’s wishes. Other provinces currently use an opt-in model where a person must sign up to become an organ donor. While the majority of Canadians say they are willing to donate organs, a much smaller percentage have registered to do so. In countries that have adopted an opt-out model, organ donation rates are higher, however this may be only one of the factors influencing rates. Other potential factors include health care spending, infrastructure, public attitudes, and donor availability. This landmark legislation has created a unique ‘natural experiment’ in which to understand the implications of opt-out models, and apply this understanding to other Canadian jurisdictions.
This project will gather evidence to inform legislative strategies aimed at improving organ donation and to evaluate the impact of opt-out legislation on organ donation in Nova Scotia.
The project will contribute to:
This project involves collaboration of five partner organizations: Nova Scotia Health, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program, Transplant Québec, and Canadian Blood Services.
Dr. Stephen Beed Medical Director Legacy of Life and Critical Care Organ Donation, Nova Scotia Health Authority
Dr. Matthew Weiss Medical Director of Organ Donation, Transplant Québec
“Nova Scotia’s donation system is undergoing a transformative change with the passage of the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act by moving towards an opt-out consent model. The Legislative Evaluation: Assessment of Deceased Donation Reform Program will study the implementation of this change - with the expectation that health care will improve for patients in Nova Scotia, and lessons learned can influence decision making in other parts of Canada to increase organ donations for those who need it most.”
EXPECTED PROJECT COMPLETION IN 2022
The Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative is an initiative led by Health Canada with provinces and territories (except Québec), Canadian Blood Services, patients, families, clinicians and researchers. Funded by Health Canada and other partners, the project Legislative Strategies to Improve Deceased Donation in Canada: A Special Focus on Evaluating the Impact of OptOut Legislation in Nova Scotia contributes to the Collaborative’s vision to achieve organ donation and transplantation system improvements that result in better patient outcomes and an increase in the number and quality of successful transplantations. For more information, please consult the Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative (the Collaborative) website: https://tinyurl.com/ODTCollaborative.