Province hopes to save lives with electronic registry for organ donors
Manitoba's health minister announced a new $100,000 program Tuesday, which will create a new electronic registry for organ donors in hopes of saving lives.
"The electronic organ registry will help professionals identify a patient's wishes even faster," says Health Minister Theresa Oswald. "[It will help] ensure opportunities for organ donations aren't missed."
The registry is meant to help Manitobans like Kristin Millar, who relies on a battery operated pump to keep her alive while she waits for a heart transplant. She is one of 160 people who are waiting for a heart, lung or liver transplant in Manitoba. It's hoped an online registry will encourage more people to donate.
"I'm living with the chance of stroke, of machine failure and of infection," says Kristin Millar. "So I do need a heart transplant."
But some worry the new online registry won't do the job. Charlotte Roy's daughter, Jessica Bondar, recently died while waiting for a heart transplant. She says the online registry won't solve a consistent problem with organ donations.
"They're going to forget to sign up, they're going to mean to do it later," says Charlotte Roy. "They're not going to tell their loved ones what they want. It doesn't go far enough."
Roy says the registry should work the other way around. According to her, there should be a registry for people who don't wish to be a donor so everyone, by default, is an organ donor unless otherwise stated.
But, the province says that doesn't work.
"Where the opt-out clause is initiated, the rates of donations are not higher than places that take an altruistic approach," says Health Minister Theresa Oswald. Her government points out the number of organ donations have been growing steadily in Manitoba over the past few years.
"When comparing the periods between 2000 and 2005, and 2006 and 2010, Manitoba has seen a 76 per cent increase in kidney transplants, a 94 per cent increase in lung transplants, a 106 per cent increase in liver transplants and a 25 per cent increase in heart transplants," said Dr. Brendan McCarthy, medical director of the Transplant Manitoba Gift of Life Program. "This can be attributed to the ongoing investments made in Transplant Manitoba and the changes we've made to make organ donation easier for Manitobans."
The province says last year, Manitoba had one of the highest organ donation rates in Canada at 15.4 deceased donors per million people. Officials say Manitoba has seen a 67 per cent increase in organ donation over the past 15 years.
-With a report from CTV's Eleanor Coopsammy