Increasing the number of organ donations and transplants in Canada is critically important. People are needlessly dying as they wait on a list. One critical issue is the lack of action by the government of Canada. Unlike many other developed countries, Canada has no effective national organ strategy. Meanwhile, 90% of Canadians support organ donation.
We know the system is complex. So are the solutions. It starts with an effective national strategy – backed by federal legislation.
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[Date goes here]
[Your name goes here]
[Your address goes here, if you wish]
Dear [your Member of Parliament’s name goes here],
I am a constituent in your riding, and I am writing to request you take the necessary steps to ensure national organ donation legislation is introduced immediately. Canada is the ONLY country in the developed world without this legislation, and we are lagging far behind in organ donation. In fact, we are 23rd in the world now when we should be leading! Spain has 40 donors per million people while Canada has only 18 donors per million. This is unacceptable, and needs to change!
The need continues to rise, bringing with it millions of dollars in additional healthcare costs. We already have the blueprint for increasing our rates from world leaders in organ donation – Spain, Croatia, and the United States. National legislation is the key to all of these successful models.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there are 4,600 people currently waiting for a transplant; almost 80% are waiting for a kidney. This is an underestimate because the list is so long in many places that patients give up hope. Too many Canadians will die waiting, but astoundingly, the exact number of deaths is not even known because the number of people who become too ill to receive a transplant is not tracked consistently. This is intolerable. And, completely unnecessary when we know that an effective national strategy, backed by legislation, could ensure the kind of mandatory, standardized reporting we need to fully understand the state of organ donation in our own country, and guide the critical health system changes we need to improve our donation and transplant rates.
These system changes will not only increase the number of organs available for transplant and save lives, they will also save our healthcare system billions of dollars annually. Dialysis costs between $60,000 – $100,000 each year, while a transplant costs $100,000 in the first year (donor and recipient), and only $20,000 each year after that. Boosting transplant rates will not only achieve cost savings (health care, and disability payments, both private and public), it will also generate additional tax revenue as we get people back to work.
Canadian Blood Services has introduced the Canadian Transplant Registry, a web-based resource to foster nation-wide sharing for all organ agencies. Even so, the fact remains that Canada’s organ donation rates have been stagnant for the last 20 years. This registry is not enough, and registries have not been enough in other countries.
A national strategy, backed by Federal legislation, is the next critical step we need to put in place to build upon work to date. It is essential that we have a cohesive national plan to advance our rates of donation and transplantation. It has been proposed that a national donor registry, or presumed consent legislation could be possible solutions for our organ donation crisis, but international research evidence suggests these strategies depend on national legislation and system-wide changes already having been made.
Only national legislation will ensure that all Canadians have transparency, accountability and equity built into our provincial donation and transplant systems that is essential for real change. The legislation must mandate a new accountable agency that can invest in the hospitals where donation occurs.
Please act now to implement national organ donation legislation in Canada – in effect, a National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA). Thousands of Canadian lives, including, my [name family members here] depend on it.
[your name goes here]