Prior to the new Act, consent to donate organs needed to be done in writing, and dated, signed and witnessed to be legally binding. The new legislation will allow Albertans renewing driver’s licences or other identification to give verbal consent to donate their organs, tissue, or body.
If they agree, the registry agent can then send the information to the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Agency, for which Albertans will eventually be able to register online at MyHealth.Alberta.ca. A code or symbol will be printed on their driver’s licence or ID to indicate a person’s organ donor consent.
Alberta has the lowest organ donation rates in the country, with less than 10 donors per one million people. Ontario and B.C. had better donor rates of 16.3 and 11.8 donors per million of population respectively, as reported in 2011, according to a release by the Government of Alberta.
About 75 people die every year while waiting for transplants in Alberta.
“The sad fact is that many Albertans on organ donation wait lists die before a donor is found,” says Nancy MacDonald, of the Alberta Donates LIFE Coalition. “This Bill will make a big difference in the lives of many Albertans waiting for transplants.”
The new agency overseeing organ donation should be up and running by 2015, including full integration into the provincial government’s computer system.