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Every Nova Scotian could soon be organ donors unless they opt out

Proposed bill aims to increase organ and tissue inventory
(via Shutterstock)

Proposed legislation in a Canadian province could change how organ donation works. 

Earlier this week, Nova Scotia announced a new Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act that would automatically make Nova Scotians automatic organ donors unless they choose to opt out. 

In B.C., you have to opt in to be an organ donor.

"Under the new legislation, everyone is a potential donor and will be automatically referred to donation programs to determine if they are good candidates," an overview from the Nova Scotia government says. "Mandatory referrals will give patients waiting for a transplant a better chance of getting one sooner by increasing available organs and tissue."

The government says the new legislation would: 

  • Make it possible for every eligible Nova Scotia resident to give the gift of life as an organ and tissue donor unless they opt out
  • Require all potential donors to be automatically referred to donation programs to determine if they are good candidates
  • Increase organs and tissues available 

There is no need to do anything until the legislation takes effect, according to the government website. When it does, Nova Scotians will be able to opt out (details about how that process looks like will eventually be made available).  

Those under 19 and others without decision-making capacity will be exempt under the legislation and will only be considered a donor if a parent, guardian or substitute decision-maker chooses to opt them in. 

The law would also apply to those who have been living in Nova Scotia for at least 12 months; however, the law would not apply to any tourists or university students in the province from other countries or elsewhere in Canada.

The bill won't become law for at least another year.