An increasing problem in Canada is the growing gap between the number of people who are waiting for an organ transplant and the availability of donor organs. There are a number of reasons for this shortage of donor organs, not all of them easily solvable. However, there is one thing that can be done that is not being done at this point: establish a national organ donor registry. Currently, organ donor registries are handled at the provincial/territorial level. This means that otherwise compatible donor-recipient pairs are missed and potentially lifesaving organ transplants go undone.
Into this breach has stepped Ziad Aboultaif, a Member of Parliament from Edmonton Manning. On February 19 he introduced a private member’s bill, C-223, The Canadian Organ Donor Registration Act, which would create a national registry.
You can see a video of him introducing his bill here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWBlxXZyj_k
Mr. Aboultaif is doing this not merely because it is eminently good policy. His son has experienced liver disease and has undergone three liver transplants, including the first one when Mr. Aboultaif donated a part of his own liver. Here is an article from the National Post which describes the Aboultaif family’s harrowing journey as well as the deficiencies in Canada’s current patchwork of registration systems: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/conservative-mp-to-table-bill-calling-for-national-organ-donor-registry-after-transplant-saved-his-son
Below is a letter from Mr. Aboultaif to supporters of his bill. Please read it. You will note that the bill is coming up for a second hour of debate on Monday morning, June 13. If successful, it will be passed on to the Health Committee, from which point it has a good chance of becoming law. However, this is a “Private Member’s Bill.” It was not introduced by the government and so it lacks those supports that make passage into law a relatively routine matter. It therefore needs the support of as many MPs in the House of Commons as possible.
I urge you to contact your MPs, whether by email or by telephone, to ask them to support passage of Bill C-223. Monday is a make or break day for this bill and it has the potential to make a major difference in organ donations in Canada.
If you aren’t sure how to contact your MP, follow this link: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members
You can “refine your search” for your MP on the right of the page, and if you are still having trouble, let me know and I will do the search for you.
You have expressed interest and support for Bill C-223, The Canadian Organ Donor Registry Act, something I very much appreciate.
This is an issue I am passionate about from first-hand experience. I am myself an organ donor, having made a donation of part of my liver to my son Tyler in 2003. That was the first of three liver transplants Tyler received, with the two subsequent ones coming from deceased donors.
From my family’s experience, I became acutely aware of the need for a more coordinated national effort in this area. Each year more than 200 Canadians die while waiting for an organ transplant. This Bill will not only improve inter-provincial communication, which is crucial in time sensitive transplant situations, but will also raise awareness of the need.
Canada’s organ donation rate is among the world’s worst. More than 90% of Canadians support organ and tissue donation in theory, but less than 25% have made plans to donate. While some provinces have a large percentage of citizens having indicated they wish to be organ donors, others have very few, far below the national average.
This is not a partisan issue. Yet during the first hour of debate on this Bill, in April, it did appear that support for this Bill was divided on party lines, with the Liberals opposed. Given the Liberal majority in the House of Commons, should Liberals not support this legislation it will be defeated and this opportunity to do something good for all Canadians will be lost.
On Monday June 13, at 11 a.m. EDT, the House of Commons will again consider Bill C-223. You can watch the debate live on CPAC and online at www.cpac.ca. This is the final time the Bill will be debated before Parliamentarians vote whether to send it to the Health Committee for further study.
If you would like to help, I encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament, especially if he or she represents the Liberal Party, and ask them to support this legislation. If improvements are necessary they can be made at the Committee stage, but that cannot happen unless MPs support it now. Please feel free to forward this letter to family and friends.
It is not being melodramatic to say that lives are at stake. Please let your MP know that.
Ziad Aboultaif, MP
Official Opposition Critic for National Revenue