I know most talk this week revolved around the mid-week inauguration of Joe Biden as the new American President and more so, let’s face it, new historic Vice-President Kamala Harris! Then talk here in Canada turned to the late week resignation of Governor General Julie Payette over a scathing report on the abusive work environment she presided over. So, you win this week America! But we’ll be back!
Until then I’d like to talk about…organ donation.
No, this column hasn’t been hacked by a doctor or knowledgeable health professional and I haven’t suddenly been sponsored by the Organ Donation Depot (though I would be open to sponsorship from that organization, if it existed). Also I don’t need a new liver myself, to the best of my knowledge. Though I am three weeks into “dry January”, which some might see as preventative medicine.
I’m talking about something you may have missed with everything else that happened this week. This past Monday, Nova Scotia became the first region in North America to pass a “presumed consent” law when it comes to organ donation. This means that Nova Scotians over the age of 18 now will be presumed to agree to donate their organs upon their death and will have to opt OUT of donating rather than opting IN to donate.
This comes as no surprise to me based on my many travels to Nova Scotia. I’ve always found their residents to be the most “give you the shirt off their back” of any group of people I’ve ever met. So really this is just an extension of that hospitality. The only challenge I see will be in getting Nova Scotians to wait until after they die to give their vital organs over to total strangers, since the following could easily be a conversation going on in Nova Scotia right now:
Nova Scotian: “What’s wrong there buddy?”
Stranger: “Oh nothing, I just have something in my eye”
Nova Scotian: “Here, have MINE, I got another one anyway!”
Nova Scotian then removes eye, gives to stranger, puts on eye patch which he had at the ready just in case, then they laugh and continue drinking.
Then of course there is the classic Monty Python sketch where non-medical organ harvesters show up at your door to take your organs while you’re still alive. Which I won’t deny you the pleasure of, I would just ask you read the rest of this article first, then you can feel free to click on the link. Just as anyone can feel free to enjoy my vital organs, after I die.
The goal is to increase organ donation and save lives and I was surprised to find out that even in Sociablllllllllle Nova Scotia, the current rate of organ donation is only about 20 per 5000 deaths or 0.4 % while the new “presumed consent” law (which would be a terrible name for a law in other legal areas, but works here) aims to immediately increase that amount to between 30-50%. So thousands of lives can and will be improved and saved, while families of those who die will know that their loved one left a “legacy of life” which, appropriately, is the name of the online link to find out more information.
I really don’t see any downside to this. Other than, due to many Nova Scotians’ appreciation of alcoholic libations, the supply and demand economics of healthy livers may be skewed towards the “demand” side.
Of course, some groups are against the new law, including religious groups with beliefs about the body and soul that forbid organ removal. However the important thing to know is that anyone can still opt OUT of the program and families can still deny organ donation at the time of death. It just means that in the moments following someone’s passing, unless otherwise specified, vital organs can be passed on to save lives.
In other countries with presumed consent already in place, organ donation is much higher. How much higher? Good question (again The Pattersonian isn’t a research intensive article destination). Point is your end of life could help another life continue or improve. Your skin, for instance could be used for burn victims. Which, granted, would be ironic for those of Irish descent whose skin can burn if we sit near a 40 watt lamp for more than 40 seconds. Imagine your Irish skin as an anti-burn agent? Who wouldn’t want to be part of that miraculous transition?
You’d have to be a bigger arsehole than a president who wouldn’t attend the inauguration of his incoming successor. In which case, your hate-filled heart, tangerine-tinged skin and diet-coke drenched gut probably wouldn’t be of much use anyway.
So bravo Nova Scotia on pushing through the “presumed consent” law for organ donation, first legislated 2 years ago and officially put in place this past week. That’s actually a bit quicker than most routine transactions I’ve been a part of out there. And this progressive move will save lives and should inspire the rest of Canada and the rest of North America to follow suit very soon. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty big news. We just didn’t make a big deal out of it.