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Organ Donation – Just Do It! As part of your Estate Plan

As a firm, McKenzie Lake proudly sponsored the New Canvas of Life Event in support of the transplant unit at London Health Sciences Centre on April 30, 2019. Organ donation is an important issue. In Canada, it is estimated that 90% of Canadians support organ and tissue donation but less than 20% have made plans to donate. I was thrilled to learn that the London region has one of the highest donation rates across Canada. i One donor can save up to 8 lives.

As an estate planner, I address organ donation and include directives in both my client’s Powers of Attorneys for Personal Care and the Wills. I also encourage my clients to have discussions with their family members and substitute decision-makers regarding their wishes to donate their organs.

In Ontario, it is also possible to make the election to donate organs and/or tissue on a driver’s license or to register through the Trillium Gift of Life Network. Provided you are over the age of 16, you can give the “Gift of Life”. ii

This past month, Nova Scotia become the first Canadian province to table legislation that will “presume consent” for organ donation. After the Bill is proclaimed, people will have the ability to opt out of donating their organs but the onus will be on the individual to do so. The Bill will not apply to people who do not have the ability to consent for themselves nor will it apply to those under the age of 19. In addition, families will be approached to confirm the donor’s wishes.

This trend follows several European countries who have implemented opt out systems. I was interested to learn that Singapore. iii has a very stringent approach to donation and generosity. Those who object to donating an organ on death must give up priority for receiving an organ should one be needed.

While this change has sparked debate about presumed consent, the reality is that organ donation saves lives. We would encourage you to speak to an estates professional about your wishes, register with Trillium Gift of Life, consider a donation of money to the Transplant Unit at LHSC(see link below) iv, and/or speak to your family members about your wishes.