More resources needed before new organ donor law takes effect: medical director
Nova Scotia's decision to bring in presumed consent will make everyone an organ donor -- unless they opt out.
However, the medical director of the province's organ and tissue donation program says a lot of work has to be done before that new law takes effect.
He says resources are already stretched, and some patients, like Darlene Sullivan, agree.
Sullivan goes for dialysis three days a week and the 58-year-old welcomes new legislation for organ donations, but says more needs to be done.
“That is wonderful because we need donors, we need donors for everything, but there are no resources,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan says a lack of resources is hindering her effort to get a new kidney.
She's been waiting for nearly a year to get on the transplant list.
When she started, she met all the requirements, but nearly one year later, she worries about her health.
“As long as my health continues to be good, but once it … if anything goes wrong, then I won't even be eligible; I still may not be eligible, I don't know.”
The number of transplants performed in Nova Scotia has varied over the years, from a high of 141 in 2011, to 90 in 2017, and 119 last year.
The program's medical director says there are only three transplant surgeons in all of Atlantic Canada.
“If you expand that kind of donation opportunity to the other Atlantic Canadian provinces, you've got a very good argument that we better be increasing the transplant resource,” Dr. Stephen Beed said in Saskatoon.
Beed says a variety of holes need to be filled and resources expanded in order for the program to be successful.
He says the province has told him they're committed to getting the job done.
“The legislation itself is not the only part of our commitment to improve the organ donation and transplant availability in Nova Scotia,” said Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey. “There are some investments that will go along.”
Says Beed: “We need to expand the organ donor co-ordinator roles so they can serve that purpose. We need to put donations physicians in regional hospitals, who can serve this role, and we need to develop an information technology solution for what we need to do.”
In the meantime, Sullivan says she's just looking for answers.
“I have a five-month old grandson, my very first one, and you know, I want to be around a little longer to have some fun with him and have memories made,” Sullivan said.
The Nova Scotia government says it'll take about 12 to 18 months before legislation is in effect.
Beed says he wants people to realize that by implementing this program, it will decrease overall health care costs.
Of course, as he mentioned, a lot of work and a focus on resources needs to take place between now and next spring.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.