Organ and Tissue Donation Program

Addressing the needs of our patients

The Legacy of Life Organ and Tissue program for Nova Scotia was established in 2006 out of a recognized need to support a lifesaving gift for Nova Scotian patients and families - that of organs and tissue. Through this program, transplant recipients benefit from a gift that completely changes their life, while donor families are supported in honouring their loved ones wishes, as well as leaving a legacy in their memory.

The Department of Critical Care has taken a provincial leadership role to:

  • ensure all families are offered the option of organ and tissue donation;
  • provide safe organs and tissue for transplant;
  • promote organ and tissue donation to the public and to health care professionals across the province.

Nova Scotia has historically had donation rates amongst the top in the country, however, with various jurisdictions across Canada adopting evidence based system improvements, we have seen other provinces surpass Nova Scotia in donation performance. Nationally this is excellent to witness, and in collaboration with our health care partners, we will be working to ensure Nova Scotia remains a national leader in regards to organ and tissue donation.

Enhancing donation initiatives

Using this national advancement as motivation, the Department of Critical Care is revisiting their donation program's structure and function. We will have an enhanced death audit process to identify missed organ donor potential across the province, and a more robust QA/QI initiative to review the donation process. We know that changing the future means enhancing the knowledge of our health care teams provincially. Therefore, we will also enhance our education intiatives to health care professionals throughout the province, inclusive of residents during their ICU rotations, in order to improve knowledge gaps pertaining to donation.  

We are also working in collaboration with the medical Multi-Organ Transplant Program to enhance donation after cardiocirculatory death in Nova Scotia. This donation option has only been offered in Halifax. However, we expect this to go province wide over the next few years so that families who make the decision to donate might have that request honoured without having to be transferred to Halifax. We continue to work with the regional tissue bank so that the gift of tissue donation, which can enhance the life of up to 50 recipients per donor, gets improved provincially. 

New legislation

The Nova Scotia government has passed legislation to increase organ and tissue donation. When the legislation takes effect in mid-to-late 2020, every Nova Scotian will have the opportunity to be an organ and tissue donor unless they opt out. Learn more by visiting the Organ and Tissue Donation Act: an overview