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Press Releases 2006

Private Member's Bill to Increase Organ Donations Gets Unanimous Support

March 30, 2006 Queen's Park A Private Member's Bill proposed by Oak Ridges MPP, Frank Klees, which received unanimous all-party support during today's legislative session, could have a significant impact on access to organ transplants for Ontario patients.

The Bill which was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy requires that, everyone 16 years of age or older, will have to make a declaration concerning organ donation when they apply for, or renew a driver's license or a provincial health card.

"The purpose of this Bill, is to emphasize the increasing importance of organ donation to saving lives and reducing the suffering and uncertainty of patients who are now locked in to long waiting lists," said Klees.

Nearly 2,000 people are waiting for a kidney, heart, liver or lung and hundreds die every year waiting for a transplant. While some advocate a system of "presumed consent", Klees has rejected that approach because he believes every Ontarian should have the right to make a personal decision as to whether they want to be an organ donor.

"The proposed "Mandatory Declaration" respects the right of every individual to make this very personal decision, but also ensures that everyone gives serious consideration to the opportunity they have to save a life," said Klees.

Although a 2001 Environics poll reported that 96% of Canadians support organ donation, fewer than 45% indicated they signed donor cards.

Klees believes his Bill will significantly increase the availability of donor organs. "This will build an automatic mechanism into the province's health card and driver's license system that will require individuals to give this consideration and to make a declaration of their choice," said Klees.

Klees' initiative on this issue was inspired by the circumstances of a number of his constituents who are experiencing the frustrations of Ontario's long waiting list for donor organs.

The Bill has received enthusiastic support from the medical community and the general public.

Greg Flynn, President of the Ontario Medical Association stated "We believe such a bill would go a long way to improving and saving the lives of so many that need organ and tissue donations in Ontario."

Dr. Jeff Zaltzman, Director, Renal Transplant, St. Michael's Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto said in support of the Bill, "I believe that this is a great opportunity to educate the public, allow donor decisions to be registered and increase the organ donation rate. The ability to provide education in advance and mandate a choice of yes, no or undecided is key to the success of the program. Unlike presumed consent, everyone will be informed and have to decide. This is non-partisan, non threatening and if done well will prove to be successful."

Dr. William Wall, Director of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at the London Health Science Centre expressed his full support for the Bill noting it's implementation "will be a major step forward in raising the organ donation rate in the province. Lives will be saved as a result."

"We strongly support organ donation," says Gary Fagan, president of the Canadian Liver Foundation. "The Foundation encourages people to sign their donor cards and discuss their wishes with family members. We feel this bill is another step in the right direction towards getting Canadians to make a concrete decision on becoming an organ donor."

Hansard Second Reading March 30, 2006 (record of debate in the legislature)

Backgrounder and Private Member's Bill are attached.


For more information please contact:

Frank Klees, MPP


Crisis in Organ Donation