REGINA – A legislative committee will look at ways to boost what Premier Brad Wall has called Saskatchewan’s “dubious record” on organ donations.
Health Minister Dustin Duncan tabled a motion in the legislature Thursday calling for the review and says he’d like to see recommendations by the end of November.
Duncan says that could include looking at presumed consent, which means people are considered donors unless they choose to opt out.
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But the health minister says there hasn’t been enough research to know what Saskatchewan residents think about presumed consent.
“There’s a lot of strong feelings on both sides of this,” said Duncan.
“There’s not a lot of experience in the world with presumed consent. My understanding is that Wales is looking at it as well, but to this point there’s only a couple of countries that have actually proceeded down this road.”
Saskatchewan’s rate of organ and tissue donation is low compared to the rest of Canada. Less than one per cent of people who die in Saskatchewan donate any organ or tissue.
There were 11 deceased donors in Saskatchewan last year from a population of slightly more than one million, compared to the Canadian average of 17 per million in 2014.
Most kidney and cornea transplants are performed in Saskatchewan.
Pediatric patients, or patients needing transplants other than kidney or cornea, are referred to transplant centres in other provinces.
“There are still far too many Saskatchewan people waiting for a transplant that will improve their quality of life or even save their life,” Duncan said.
In February, a group of transplant patients and their families urged the Manitoba government to change the rules so that people don’t have to sign up in order to donate their organs after death.
The group, called Manitobans for Presumed Consent, said the idea is to save more lives by getting more organ donations.
Just one per cent of Manitobans have signed up for an online organ donation registry.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information said in March that over the last decade, the number of Canadians waiting for a new organ has been higher than the number of transplants performed within a given year.
It said there were 2,356 organ transplant surgeries performed in 2014, according to the latest numbers available. However, more than 4,500 Canadians were on the waiting list.
Canadians waiting for a new kidney accounted for more than 3,400, or 77 per cent, of those on the list.