New Brunswick Organ Donation Bill Sent to Law Amendments Committee for Further Study – New Brunswick

A private member’s bill that would make New Brunswick the second jurisdiction in North America to mandate presumed consent for organ donation has been sent to a committee of the Legislative Assembly for further study.

Currently, donors must register for their organs to be used for transplant, or family members of a deceased person must give explicit consent for organs to be removed, but the new bill would change that.

Bill 61, An Act to amend the Human Tissue Donation Act, would presume consent to organ and tissue donation unless a person opts out. The bill was introduced by Liberal health critic Jean-Claude D’Amours and was heavily based on similar legislation passed in Nova Scotia in 2019.

“I don’t know what the end result will be and I hope the government side and the People’s Green Alliance will support Bill 61,” D’Amours said ahead of a second reading debate Thursday afternoon.

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“That’s what you should do.”

D’Amours did not get his wish, as the PC government used its majority to refer the bill to the Law Amendments Committee for further study.

“I want to continue working together. I want to continue researching our options and researching how we can make this bill the best it can be, because Madam Speaker, it could not be passed today without amendments,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard.

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Shephard said the bill was not without merit, but raised concerns about the violation of bodily autonomy and whether the law would actually lead to an increase in donors without other “fundamental” supports for the system in place. .

“This bill has immense value,” Shephard said. “I want to support the movement towards organ and tissue donation.

“The government agrees that it is essential to increase the number of organ and tissue donors and the number of residents who indicate their intention to become organ and tissue donors.

Liberals called the bill “Avery’s Law,” in reference to a 16-year-old boy from Miramichi who died after a car accident in 2019. Avery Astle’s parents wanted to donate his organs, but told them no one was available to pick them up. .

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D’Amours says there are more than 140 New Brunswickers waiting for a transplant.

The three opposition parties voted against the amendment referring the bill to legislative amendments, arguing that amendments could still be tabled before third reading. The amendment passed 25 to 22, with government lawmakers voting in favor and the Liberals, Greens and People’s Alliance voting against.

The bill is now in the hands of the standing committee on law amendments, which will be able to call witnesses to intervene. The committee will produce a report with the suggested changes before returning to the Assembly for further review. No date has been set for the committee’s review of the bill.

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Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said he fears delaying the bill could mean more New Brunswickers could die while waiting for a transplant.

“Let’s not wait another six months, 12 months, two years,” he said.

“I know the minister said she was in favor of a movement towards organ donation, a movement that she called that. We don’t want a movement, we want a law, that will allow that.

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The New Brunswick Medical Society has come out in favor of the bill.

“We need to lower the barriers to organ and tissue donation,” President Jeff Steeves said in a statement earlier this week.

According to the medical society, about 4,400 Canadians are waiting for organ transplants and about 250 Canadians die each year while waiting. They say countries with presumed consent see 25-30% more donations than those with explicit consent.

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Mary Schryer, former health minister in Shawn Graham’s government, knows the experience of watching a family member wait for a transplant. Schryer’s sister died in 2010 while awaiting a lung transplant.

She hopes to see the bill move forward so others don’t have to go through the same experience.

“She waited two years on the waiting list for a lung that never came,” Schryer said.

“You never want to see someone suffer like you did and once you’ve experienced it, it takes on a whole new meaning,” she said.

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