New Brunswick Medical Society and Heart & Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick applaud amendments to Human Tissue Gift Act

The New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) and Heart & Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick are pleased to support amendments to the provincial Human Tissue Gift Act introduced today by the Liberal Party of New Brunswick. If passed by government, these amendments would mean New Brunswick is the second jurisdiction in North America — behind Nova Scotia — to make every individual 19 years and up organ and tissue donors unless they choose to opt out.

We need to reduce barriers to organ and tissue donation. Approximately 4,400 Canadians are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant including about 140 New Brunswickers. Sadly, about 250 Canadians die each year waiting for an organ transplant. According to the New Brunswick Organ and Tissue Program, approximately 347,000 New Brunswickers (46 per cent) have indicated they wish to be a donor. Another 279,000 (36 per cent) prefer not to donate, leaving 140,000 (18 per cent) as unknown. We can do better.

According to the World Health Organization, countries with opt-out laws have donation rates 25 to 30 per cent higher than those in countries who require explicit consent, as is the case in all Canadian provinces except for Nova Scotia.

Simply put, organ and tissue donations save lives. New Brunswickers recognize this: when surveyed by Narrative Research, 79 per cent of residents indicated they are likely to support presumed consent organ donation law. The NBMS and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick have advocated to the Government of New Brunswick to enact presumed consent legislation for organ and tissue donation, and we urge all parties to support this initiative.

Dr. Jeff Steeves
President, New Brunswick Medical Society

Kurtis Sisk
Chief Executive Officer, Heart & Stroke NB