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‘Nobody will be against this’: Quebec wants to change organ donation rules

A new bill tabled at the National Assembly Wednesday proposes a paradigm shift in the way Quebec deals with organ donation.

Right now if you want to donate your organs after you die, you need to opt in. If the new bill tabled by Liberal health critic André Fortin becomes law, the desire to donate will be assumed unless you opt out.

“Nobody will be against this. Everybody should be in favour of this because it saves lives,” Fortin said at a press conference. “It should become the norm.”

Fortin tried to present the same bill in 2019, but the ruling CAQ didn’t let it move forward.

Now, after a discussion between Fortin and Health Minister Christian Dubé, the government is on board.

“I think we we agreed that this should be a priority,” Dubé said Wednesday.

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“I have the health minister on my side, he agreed yesterday in parliamentary committee to lobby his own party to call the bill,” Fortin explained.

It’s something that’s already been done in other jurisdictions with positive results.

“Nova Scotia has adopted a similar legislation which has proven to increase organ donation by about 40 per cent in the province. That has saved lives and it’s something we could do here in Quebec as well,” said Fortin.

Cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos says there is no downside to passing such a legislation, because people can still opt out if they don’t want to be organ donors.

“It’s been tried elsewhere and it’s been largely successful in boosting donation rates,” said Labos.

Many people are not eligible to donate organs for a wide variety of reasons, but the new law would also cover tissue donations, which Dr. Labos says are desperately needed.

“I think most people are generally in favour of organ donation if they were eligible. They just never get around to documenting that fact officially. This would help get over that hurdle of inertia, which is the barrier for most people,” said Labos.

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The government has agreed to open discussion on Fortin’s bill, but not right away.

The legislative process will only move forward this fall.

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