moved that Bill C-227, an act to establish a National Organ Donor Registry and to co-ordinate and promote organ donation throughout Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, Bill C-227 seeks to create an act to establish a National Organ Donor Registry to promote organ donation throughout Canada. The objective of Bill C-227 is to provide the means to increase the amount of available organs in Canada for the purpose of transplantation through organ acquisition.
A national organ donor registry would allow people to register legal consent for organ donations and would subsequently lead to an increase in Canada's low rate of donations.
We must establish a system to support high levels of organ donation in Canada. We have the opportunity to store or provide a link between information on organ donors from participating provinces. Information will be maintained in an efficient form for the purposes of identifying intended or potential organ donors.
According to the report of the Standing Committee on Health released in April 1999, entitled “Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation: A Canadian Approach”, Canada is currently facing a serious situation with respect to organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
The present organ donor rate is unacceptable. Organ donation must be made an issue of national importance.
A national registry would provide an efficient means to allow available organs to be matched with waiting recipients. This co-ordinated effort would ultimately reduce the current waiting time for a match. As it now stands, one-third of individuals who wait for an organ transplant die as they wait for a matching donor.
Lives will be saved with the establishment of an organized and efficient national organ donor registry. It will be possible to co-ordinate the supply and demand of available organs.
The widening gap between the organs available and the number of Canadians in need of them highlights the void that we will continue to have without a national organ donor registry. The problem is that there is no national system to ensure that usable organs are used and matched to those in need.
The annual number of patients waiting for an organ replacement grows faster than the number of transplants being performed each year. Potential organ donors are lost because we lack a clear, organized and simple system in Canada. Laws need to follow rather than lead the issues that require a legislative response.
A national organ donor registry would provide the means to prevent the deaths of a third of all people who wait for an organ transplant now. The very success of transplants clearly depends on every effort that is made to increase the number of available donors.
The public is becoming increasingly aware of the vast potential of organ transplantation. Public awareness is the key to tackling the issue of transplant shortages in this country. The first week of April is now designated as National Organ Donor Week. Public awareness of the importance of organ donation continues as April 18 to April 25 now marks National Organ Donor Awareness Week.
It would seem only logical to have people's organ compatibility levels easily accessible in a national database so that matches could be made in seconds once the organs become available. The price of a human life is worth the time needed to organize a national co-ordinating organ donor system, as opposed to the many lives that are now lost without it.
The success rate for transplantation is worth noting. After one year, both liver and kidney transplant recipients enjoy a very high rate of survival.
The most recent figures indicate that the current rate of organ donations in this country remains at a standstill of 14.8 organs available per million, as opposed to 21 organs per million in the United States. A national organ donor registry would help reverse the critical shortage of donated organs.
Canada has one of the lowest donor rates among western industrialized countries. Organ donations need to be on the public agenda simply because the situation is at a crisis level.
A national registry would enable provinces to share information about prospective donors. The ability to provide donor data when required by a hospital is crucial to the success of any registry.
The primary purpose for the establishment of an organ donor registry is for donor identification. Donor identification is effective only if there is a system for linking the potential donor to a potential recipient. There are three different types of donors. They include the following: intended donors, potential donors and actual donors.
An intended donor is an individual who has expressed the desire or intention to become a donor upon death, or when appropriate during life.
A potential donor is an individual who has been identified within the health care facility as being appropriate for the purpose of being an organ or tissue donor.
Lastly, an actual donor is an individual from whom at least one organ or tissue has been procured, allocated and transplanted.
Potential organ donors must satisfy brain death criteria before they can be deemed suitable for donation. Brain death is the irreversible ending of all brain functions, including that of the brain stem.
According to the Canadian Medical Association, the whole brain must be dead in order for the patient's organs to be harvested. After brain death has been declared there is no hope. It is time to let go and give hope to someone else. The pronouncement of brain death is never made by a physician who has anything to do with the transplant process. Death is not prematurely announced in order for the patient to become an organ donor.
We need to find a workable plan to address the very real lack of available organs in the country. We need one central database, or linked databases, which will allow Canadians the opportunity to register their choice about organ donations in a legally enforceable manner. Lifesaving information should be available to those in the health care profession.
Securing organ donations is a community responsibility. Now is the time to rethink our approach to organ donation. Social awareness of the need to make a conscious and deliberate choice to donate one's organs at the time of death brings us to the point where we can acknowledge the importance of a national organ donor registry.
We need a national program that will co-ordinate well with participating provinces.
The British Columbia Transplant Society is a provincially funded health organization that supports the needs of transplant patients and families. The British Columbia Transplant Society directs, delivers or contracts for all organ transplants within the province and sets standards on quality.
In the spring of 1997, the British Columbia Transplant Society tested a new and significant program to help increase the effectiveness of organ donation in Canada. The program is called the organ donor registry. This provincial registry includes a computerized database that records the wishes of organ donors in B.C. Since the creation of the British Columbia Transplant Society the number of organ transplants performed annually has increased by more than 400%.
The multiple organ retrieval and exchange program of Ontario, founded by the ministry of health, was developed as the central registry of organ donors and recipients for Ontario to facilitate the equitable distribution of transplant organs in the province. Potential recipients, once registered and listed on the system, are eligible for the fast, efficient and equitable allocation of organ donors.
The Canadian organ replacement register includes data and analysis of kidney dialysis, organ donation and transplantation activities in Canada. The Canadian organ replacement register provides information on the level of activity and outcomes of dialysis in Canada.
The Canadian organ replacement register is managed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. More Canadians are waiting for organ transplants and the numbers are rising annually, with kidneys in the greatest demand.
The best treatment replacing dialysis is a kidney transplant. The shortage of organ donations causes patients to be left on dialysis, which remains very costly.
We need to gather our resources to turn the desire to live into a realistic goal.
Because there are millions of people in Canada, the chances of finding an organ donor and recipient who are chemically compatible are significantly reasonable. However, testing for compatibility takes time. Minutes are critical when deciding where to transport the newly acquired organ.
As many as one-third of the potential donors remain unidentified or poorly managed. Another third is lost due to family or coroner refusal. The actual number of donors is only one-third of the potential.
This bill is about removing obstacles and creating a venue for change. Donors ensure a future for those in need of transplantation by providing the option for a longer life. There is an increasing demand for organ transplantation as the medical procedure maintains a high level of success. This demand has not been met due to the shortage of available organs.
The critical shortage of organs and tissues remains the most important challenge for health care professionals. The presence of a national organ and tissue sharing system would help to ensure safe, equitable and efficient transplantation in Canada.
We can see the positive effects of successful organ transplantation in our everyday lives.
The Canadian Transplant Games Association is a non-profit organization of transplant athletes and others committed to positively influencing public attitudes toward organ donation and motivating transplant recipients to maintain a healthy lifestyle by holding athletic events. Public awareness and community involvement can combine to offer help to needy recipients.