Klees' organ bill passes hurdle

Apr 13, 2007 03:54 PM
From yorkregion.com

Anne Barbetta’s double lung transplant saved her life just as cancer threatened to rob her of it.

The Newmarket resident was diagnosed with the disease in 2004, but the replacement of both  lungs with donated organs rescued her from a condition often viewed as a death sentence.

Ms Barbetta, a lifelong non-smoker, was pleased to hear a private member’s bill introduced by Oak Ridges MPP Frank Klees to encourage organ donation has taken another step toward becoming law.
“I’m very happy to see it’s gone this far and I hope it does get passed. There’s a whole other world of people suffering that we tend to turn a blind eye to.”

If passed, Bill 67 will make it mandatory for Ontario residents 16 and older to answer an organ donation question when renewing or applying for a driver’s licence or health card. The bill has been scheduled for public hearings April 19 at Queen’s Park, then clause-by-clause consideration April 26.

The question would require people to check off “yes”, “no” or “undecided” on whether they wanted their organs harvested.

Organ donation has become an issue in the news this week  after 10-year-old John Pham died following a school bus accident in Brampton.

The boy’s parents had doctors at Sick Kids hospital take John off life support Wednesday and agreed to have his organs donated, saying it was his wish.

Mr. Klees tabled his organ donation bill last February, where it received support from all three parties in March.

There are no large costs associated with implementing the bill and no major administrative process, Mr. Klees said.

Many in the medical community — including the presidents of the Ontario Medical Association and the Trillium Gift of Life Network — have spoken in support of the bill, he noted.

Several have submitted written statements trumpeting its virtues.

There are 1,800 people in Ontario waiting for organs, while one person on that list dies every three days without receiving transplants.

Mr. Klees said he hopes the bill becomes law before the legislature breaks for the summer.
“The important thing is people are confronted with the issue of organ donation and it forces them to at least think about it,” he said.
“I just don’t see how the government could justify not implementing this bill.”

Ms Barbetta agreed that if passed, the bill will help raise awareness of organ donation. She cited a poll that said 96 per cent of Canadians support the concept of donating organs.

“When it comes down to doing something about it, people don’t do anything,” she said.
“But why wouldn’t you? It’s the most selfless gift you can possibly give.”

Ms Barbetta is planning a walk May 27 at Newmarket’s Fairy Lake to support lung transplant and organ donation research, as well as lung cancer research.

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