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National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week - and the urgent need for more people to be organ donors.

 On Wednesday April 20, I spoke in response to a Ministerial statement about the need to increase the number of people who are willing to be organ donors.   There are people in Manitoba who are suffering, and in some cases dying, because they can not get a kidney or a heart or a lung or a liver quickly enough.   My comments are below. 

National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, this coming week, the last full week in April, is national organ and tissue  awareness week. Originating in 1997 on an initiative of Dan McTeague, then-Liberal Member of Parliament, this week brings attention to the urgent need for more people to indicate they're willing to be organ and tissue donors.

      The latest information on Transplant Manitoba's website shows that there are more than 200 Manitobans waiting for a kidney transplant alone, not including other types of transplants. The high number is likely due in part to delays and backlogs.

      The story of Matthew Laferriere raised by CBC reporter Lauren Donnelly in December 2021 illustrates the problem. After six years of waiting while on home dialysis, Laferriere was due to get a kidney transplant in 2020. He found a living donor, been cleared for the procedure and only needed the hospital to schedule the operation. But complications since a–as a result of the wait, have meant his health deteriorated to the point he needed a heart transplant first and then the kidney transplant. A simpler pro­cedure became much more complicated because of the delay.

      Ideally, the backlogs and waits for procedures like Matthew Laferriere's should have been managed better, in part through better allocation of resources by the government to the transplant program.

      The lives of people like Matthew Laferriere are on the line every day. It would be far better to move to a situation where there is a presumption of consent to donate an organ and an opt-out for organ donation instead of an opt-in.

      It is a concept now supported by the Manitoba Law Reform Commission. It is a concept supported by Manitoba Liberals in the 2016 election. In March  2017, Judy Klassen, the former MLA for Keewatinook, seconded a bill to achieve this goal. Unfor­tunately, the bill was not then supported by the Conservative Party. I hope that that has changed and that the legislation could now be brought forward suc­cess­fully here in Manitoba.

      Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.


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