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OPINION: Highwood MLA’s bill provides gift of life

Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson's legislative efforts will see an increase in organ donation in Alberta.
Organ donation
RJ Sigurdson’s organ donation bill requires health care professionals to report all imminent deaths to Alberta's organ procurement organization.

There’s not much higher praise for a piece of legislation than to say it will save lives – and that’s exactly what RJ Sigurdson’s private member's bill is going to do. 

The Highwood MLA’s organ donation bill, which passed into law last week after three years in the works, requires health care professionals to report all imminent deaths to Alberta's organ procurement organization in an effort to increase the number of organ donors, which means more people on waitlists will ultimately receive the most precious gift of all, the gift of life. 

Given the fact that 55 Albertans died while waiting for an organ transplant in 2020, anything that increases the odds of finding a match for those who find themselves in the unfortunate position of being on a waitlist should be wholeheartedly endorsed. 

According to the federal government, less than one-quarter of people in this country are registered organ donors so the mandatory referral system means that much larger group of Canadians, or their loved ones, will be approached about possible organ donation. Mandatory referral doesn’t mean organs must be donated, but it does ensure there are no missed opportunities. 

Donor rates in other provinces that have adopted similar legislation have been positively impacted to the point that the number of people who have donated their organs after death has increased by 42 per cent Canada-wide in the last decade. 

Sigurdson deserves credit for spearheading this non-partisan effort here and shepherding it through the legislative process. He recognized that Alberta's donation process needed to be revamped, not only to keep up with best practices on this critical issue, but more importantly, to increase the rates of donation in this province. 

The end result of this undertaking is those on a waitlist today, or those who might find themselves on one in the future, will have a better chance of receiving the ultimate gift.