A mandatory referral policy put in place by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority three years ago has seen a spike in organ donations.
The policy, implemented in 2014, calls for the Gift of Life program to be contacted by all Winnipeg intensive care units and emergency rooms after life-support is withdrawn to the patient.
That program has seen potential donors rise from 35.1% in 2014 to 74.3% in 2016.
“We continue to see on average 49% of families choosing to decline largely because they don’t know the wishes of their loved ones,” said Dr. Peter Nickerson, medical director of Transplant Manitoba.
Nickerson says the biggest impact on organ donation happens when families have the discussion to find out the wishes of loved ones.
“When families know their loved one wished to be a donor, 90% of families support that choice.”
Initiatives such as the SignUpForLife.ca website are also helping boost donations, which is the provincial online registry that securely records the donation decisions of Manitobans.