Ontario Government Launches New Strategy To Support Living Donors

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TORONTO, August 2007 – Premier Dalton McGuinty today announced the Ontario government is investing $4 million in a comprehensive new plan to boost organ donations and save lives.

“Too many Ontarians face an agonizing wait for an organ that could save their life,” said Premier McGuinty. “We want to do everything we can to help boost organ donation so more Ontarians get the second chance at life that they deserve.”

The government’s organ donation strategy will:

  • Help connect living donors with compatible recipients with a new living donor database
  • Improve public awareness through investments in public education, including a youth-focused campaign
  • Provide funding to reimburse living donors for pre-approved expenses, such as accommodation, meals, travel and lost income, and
  • Provide hospitals with information identifying people who wish to donate their organs after death. This will help ensure those individuals’ organ donation wishes are known and respected.

“Organ donation saves hundreds of lives each year across Ontario, yet there are not enough available donors to meet the demand for organ transplants,” said Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman. “Our made-in-Ontario Organ Donation Strategy will make the province’s organ donation system more effective so we can save more lives in the future, particularly through support for living donations.”

The new organ donation strategy is guided by recommendations made by the Citizens Panel on Increasing Organ Donations. The McGuinty government established the panel in 2006 to survey the public on their views about organ donation and ways to improve and increase organ donation. The panel released its final report in April 2007.

“We are delighted the government has moved so quickly in response to our report,” said Dr. Ted Boadway, Chair of the Citizens Panel on Increasing Organ Donations. “Ontarians on waiting lists for organ transplants will have a new chance at life.”

“This is a great day for people on the waiting list for an organ transplant and for potential living donors,” said Frank Markel, President and CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network. “This new strategy will improve communication with potential living organ donors and those waiting so that more donations and transplantations can occur, and, save more lives.”

The government’s organ donation strategy is just one more example of how, working together, Ontarians have achieved results in health care services across the province. Other initiatives include:

  • $10.4 million in additional funding for 2007-08 for hospitals to support organ transplantation across Ontario
  • Implementing Routine Notification and Request — a strategy requiring Ontario’s hospitals to report all deaths to Trillium Gift of Life Network, allowing it to take the necessary steps to determine if an organ donation is possible, and
  • Providing hospitals with the funds needed for screening, assessment and surgery of living liver and kidney donors.

“Thousands of Ontarians have already made the courageous step of giving the most powerful gift of all — the gift of life,” said Premier McGuinty. “We’re going to keep working with Ontarians and our health care partners to increase organ donation so we can save even more lives.”