Nova Scotia is the first jurisdiction in North America that will automatically classify individuals, by default, as organ and tissue donors. An article by the CBC explains the decision in more detail and how families of deceased individuals will still be approached to confirm the donor’s wishes. Critics of the idea argue that this is a dangerous precedent that essentially gives the government the right to lay ownership on people’s bodies and could lead to further government invasions down the road.
Critics also worry about those who will inevitably be unaware of this new measure and thus, will never have an opportunity to make the decision to opt-out. While that idea sounds silly, I think the same unawareness is the reason there aren’t more registered donors. As a kid, I remember old commercials by then Illinois Secretary of State George Ryan asking citizens to sign the back of their driver’s license to become a donor. Today, becoming a donor is done online (starting with a simple Google search). While the process is easy, the awareness or urgency just doesn’t exist.
While I personally do not share the same worry of those who oppose Nova Scotia’s decision, I can understand or sympathize with their point of view. At the end of the day, I lean towards opposing measures where the government gets involved in the personal decisions of people. Organ donation should be an individual’s choice, not one that the government decides, regardless of whether an opt-out exists. In this scenario, such forced intervention is especially unnecessary because a less invasive solution is already available — technology. With technology, giving people the choice should be easy.
Adults have to renew their driver’s license every few years. Same with renewing vehicle stickers (each year) or registering to vote. Pick one of those ideas and piggyback off it. For example, while renewing a driver’s license, have the process include a simple poll question that each person answers. Would you like to be an organ donor? If yes, you answer some follow-up questions that details your specific donation preferences. If no, see you again in a few years.
Parents have to register their children for school each year. Why can’t part of that process involve the same idea?
Choose one of those ideas and run with it. Adults would have the opportunity to make this decision every few years. With that repeated exposure, perhaps the number of those who are willing to donate but just never get around to it might lead to increased donations.
Ironically, I had just renewed my Illinois vehicle sticker online last week. The new registration and sticker arrived in the mail today. For whatever it’s worth, the backside of the envelope displayed a reminder to join the organ/tissue donor registry via LifeGoesOn.com.