Appeared in The Alberta Doctors' Digest, March/April 1998

A Private Bid to Improve Canada's Organ Donation System


Keith Martin, M.D. and member of parliament, is striking out on his own to revamp Canada's organ donation system. "The number of people needing organ transplants far outstrips the number of available organs. This is an avoidable tragedy," he said. "In 1994 alone, 138 people died while waiting for transplants."

In October 1997, Dr. Martin presented a four-point Private Member's Motion (M-222) to the House of Commons. The motion was passed with unanimous consent. If the government produces a bill to fulfill the motion's objectives, it will call for a restructuring of Canada's organ donation system like successful systems in other parts of the world, such as in Austria with more than 25 donors per million of its population, compared to Canada's 12.1 donors per million.

The production of a suitable legislative bill is not guaranteed. Accordingly, Dr. Martin has called upon interested members of the public to support his motion and encourage the government to transform his proposal into a viable bill. Dr. Martin welcomes comments and suggestions regarding his initiative.

AMA members who support Dr. Martin's proposal can write him a letter of support at 2820B Jacklin Road, Victoria BC V9B 3X9. E-mail will reach him at Further background information on M-222 can be found on the world wide web at

Dr. Martin is an emergency physician and a member of the British Columbia Medical Association.


The four-point private member's motion

1. A 24-hour national database that would link consenting donors with the most appropriate recipients.

2. A mandated choice strategy for possible organ donors through a mechanism such as the federal income tax return.

3. Remove all financial disincentives that presently exist for health care facilities that are involved in transplantable tissue procurement.

4. Introduce legislation to protest the rights and wishes of those who have consented to donate their organs.

Copyright© Tracy Cooper-Posey, 1998

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