Monday, August 13, 2007

A gift of life

I am proud to see that young liberals have come together in support of a policy resolution that advocates for presumed consent (opt-out) organ donation in Ontario. This is a very small first step towards the adoption of presumed consent in legislation, a policy that has been adopted by Austria, Belgium and Spain. In these nations, the shortage of organs has been alleviated, waiting lists have shortened, and lives have been saved.

Think about how agonizing it is to be on a waiting list for something as simple as an academic program. Your future is at stake: what will you do if no space was available? What will you do with your career? Take this apprehensiveness and apply it to something as critical as your life: you will die if no organ is available. Such fears are faced by thousands of Ontarians every year. Unfortunately, not all of them receive the relief of a transplant, and hundreds die on a waiting list.

Presumed consent has its problems - the opt-out process must be facile, accessible and understood by all. It's not a pretty policy. No politician would serve as the champion of organ donation because it doesn't win votes, nor is it of everyday relevance to Canadians. However, the foundation of the Canadian health care system is built on a system of insurance - you hope you will never need it, but it's there when you do. Organ donation must be approached from the same way.

Globe and Mail article (Aug. 11 2007): Joint Venture