(Montreal) Quebec could adopt a major paradigm shift in organ donation. Rather than having to seek proof of consent from a deceased patient, we would assume their donor status until proven otherwise.

This way of reversing the burden aims to increase the number of donors and donations. Nova Scotia became the first Canadian province to adopt this practice in January 2021 and the number of donations has indeed seen a sharp increase.

Concretely, Quebecers who do not want their organs removed would be responsible for indicating their refusal by signing a sticker on the back of their health insurance card or by registering in the register of refusals of consent.

Bill 194 proposing the “Law establishing a presumption of consent to the donation of organs or tissues after death” was tabled on Wednesday by the member for Frontenac, André Fortin. The Liberal health critic had previously submitted the same piece of legislation in 2019, but the government had never submitted the document to parliamentarians.

“This is a measure that is requested by many patients who are waiting for organ donation,” said Mr. Fortin. It is a bill that is simple to understand, simple to pass and there seems to be a consensus of the various parties. »

This time, André Fortin believes that the bill will go ahead since he believes he has the support of the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé. The latter has also confirmed his interest in a press scrum.

“The subject is very important. A bit like medical assistance in dying, it is a project that should be a priority, “commented the minister, proposing to include it in the fall program.

“If we can improve the possibility for patients to have organ donations, I think we should work on this in a non-partisan way”, he added, again referring to the work carried out in collegiality in medical assistance in dying case.

As is currently the case, the last word goes to the relatives of the deceased before organ removal is carried out or not. This prerogative would remain in effect under the proposed new law.

“Yes, family members should be able to continue to serve a past conversation they had with the deceased person or their opposition, argues Mr. Fortin. The family can always signify their opposition. »

According to him, the work of raising awareness is partly up to the medical teams. “This is where the importance of having well-equipped medical professionals talking to families becomes even greater,” he believes.

This veto granted to loved ones is also the reason why people are strongly encouraged to discuss their wishes for organ donation with those around them.

The organization that coordinates the organ donation process in the province, Transplant Québec, responded in writing to the tabling of the bill. He says he favors “all measures to improve organ and tissue donation, beyond the question of consent”.

“In Quebec, optimizations are necessary in order to be able to save more lives and these improvements must be based in a new specific and complete legislative framework”, we argue. The organization is also delighted with the interest shown by elected officials.

According to data from Transplant Québec for the year 2022, 171 donors made it possible to remove 584 organs which benefited 483 people.