Health Canada Awards $1.1 million in funding to evaluate the impact of the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act

Health Canada’s investment through its Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative, whose mandate is to help make transformative changes in organ donation and transplantation systems across Canada, has awarded $1.1 million to Nova Scotia Health, in collaboration with its key partners including: Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Canadian Donation and Transplant Research Program, Transplant Québec, and Canadian Blood Services. The purpose of the study is to gather evidence to inform legislative strategies to improve donation and to rigorously evaluate the impact of the overall implementation. 

The Legislative Evaluation: Assessment of Deceased Donation Reform (LEADDR) Program is being led by Drs. Stephen Beed, Medical Director of Nova Scotia’s Organ Donation Program and Matthew Weiss, Director of Donation, Transplant Québec. LEADDR is supported by Nova Scotia Health Administrative Lead, VP of Research, Innovation and Discovery and chief nursing officer, Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy. 

In April 2019, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in North America to pass deemed consent legislation with the introduction of the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act. This means that it will be possible for more Nova Scotians to donate their organs and tissues unless they opt out. Dr. Stephen Beed and the Nova Scotia Health Research and Innovation team recognized the importance of understanding the impact of this groundbreaking legislation and assembled a Pan-Canadian team of researchers to seek funding support from Health Canada.

“This study will act as a template for future implementation plans as Nova Scotia draws on the best evidence to create the conditions for successful collaboration and knowledge sharing,” said Dr. Tomblin Murphy.

The three-year funding support will enable a structured review and evaluation that will provide invaluable information and insight as other jurisdictions look to Nova Scotia’s experience and consider introducing the deemed consent model in their own jurisdictions.

The LEADDR researchers are optimistic that the results of its activities will add more evidence necessary to understand the experiences of deemed consent on a national and international level, and to understand the knowledge and attitudes of the public and health care professionals alike regarding deceased donation. Nova Scotia will lead the way for deceased donation programs across the country, and the experiences will help to provide the gift of life to those who need it most.

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Quotes
"Organ donation rates have been improving in Canada, but the waiting list of Canadians in need of an organ transplant continues to grow. Through the Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative, the Government of Canada is supporting this research to advance organ and tissue donation in Canada. In collaboration with the provinces and territories, we can improve our organ donation system so that Canadians have timely and effective access to quality donation and transplantation services."
- The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

"Nova Scotia is the first jurisdiction in North America to have opt-out organ and tissue donation legislation – a change that will help more people get the good news they have been waiting for and ensure more donors have the chance to save and improve lives. This research project will look at how our province made this important change and help inform other jurisdictions’ decisions as they consider their approaches to organ and tissue donation."
- The Honourable Randy Delorey, Minister, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness

"I am truly honoured to have been given the opportunity to be part of the LEADDR program and to work alongside a broad group of experts both here at the NSHA and nationally. Through innovative and collaborative research, this program will give us all a better understanding of the impact of opt-out legislation on both donation and transplantation."
- Dr. Karthik Tennankore, Staff Nephrologist, Division of Nephrology, Nova Scotia Health, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Surgery, Dalhousie University, QEII Foundation Endowed Chair in Transplantation Research

"Nova Scotia Health is excited to be leading this important research with its national colleagues; we will have some of our brightest scholars and clinicians working with their counterparts from across Canada. This collaboration will provide an in-depth and exhaustive review and approach to the launch of the new legislation and system reforms occurring in Nova Scotia regarding organ and tissue donation and transplantation. It will enable us to capitalize on not only our own local talent but that of our national partners; providing a more well-rounded approach to our inquiry. I am personally honoured to be working with such a large breadth of individuals who are providing their content knowledge and expertise to help ensure our local success for improved access and care for Nova Scotians."
- Cynthia Isenor, Health Services Director, Critical Care Program, Nova Scotia Health 

"The Nova Scotia Government and its partners are leading the way in North America by moving towards a deemed consent model. The Canadian donation and transplant community needs to make sure we study all the impacts of this change, from how it improves the system to what other provinces might want to do differently. This careful research will ensure that the lessons learned in Nova Scotia make the biggest impact possible."
- Dr. Matthew Weiss, Director of Donation, Transplant Québec

"The Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program is thrilled to be involved in this innovative research program. I am convinced that LEADDR will generate important knowledge that provincial, national, and international stakeholders will be able to use to inform and implement donation and transplantation legislative changes."
- Dr. Mélanie Dieudé, Ph.D. Executive Director, Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program

Provincial media line: 
1-844-483-3344
NSHAmedia@nshealth.ca