Organ and Tissue Donation Law Comes into Effect in January

Health And Wellness

**** PREMIER’S OFFICE Media Release

Organ and Tissue Donation Law Comes into Effect in January
Government announced on June 30th, the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act will come into effect on Jan. 18, 2021.

The new law will make it possible for more Nova Scotians to donate their organs and tissues at the time of their death.

“This change will help more people get the good news they have been waiting for and ensure more potential donors have the chance to save and improve lives,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “I am very proud that when it comes into effect, Nova Scotia will be the first jurisdiction in North America to have such legislation.”

A single organ donor can save up to eight lives, and a single tissue donor can help up to 75 people. As of June 29, 108 Nova Scotians are waiting for an organ transplant. Last year, 53 Nova Scotians received organ transplants.

Starting on Jan. 18, people who do not record a decision on their health card, and are eligible, will be seen as agreeing to be a donor after death. This is known as deemed consent.

Examples of those not eligible for deemed consent are:
— people under 19 years of age
— people without decision-making capacity
— people who have lived in Nova Scotia less than 12 months

People who want to opt out of donation before the new law takes effect can now do so at or by calling MSI at 1-800-563-8880. They can also change their decision at any time.

To learn more about the changes and Nova Scotians’ donation options, visit

“Donation saved my life. It’s an incredible gift to give. One that I am very grateful for and never take for granted. Because of this legislation, so many others who are in desperate need will receive a second chance at life sooner.”
​ ​ ​ ​ ​ – Tammy Ripley, heart recipient from Amherst

“Today is an important day for health care in Nova Scotia. Changes to the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act will have a positive impact on recipients awaiting transplants, how we provide end-of-life care to our donors and our ongoing work with donor families. I encourage all Nova Scotians to learn more about the benefits of organ and tissue donation, register your decision and discuss it with your family and loved ones.”
​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ – Dr. Stephen Beed, Medical Director of the Nova Scotia Organ and Tissue Donation Program

Quick Facts:
— the Multi-Organ Transplant Program, based in Halifax, provides organ transplant services for the four Atlantic provinces. The Regional Tissue Bank, part of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, is one of the largest comprehensive tissue centres in Canada
— organs that can be donated include kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and small bowel. Tissues that can be donated include corneas, sclera, skin, heart valves, bone, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments
— Nova Scotians who want to donate their organs and tissues can continue to indicate that through their health cards. Donation decisions are recorded in the province’s health card registry
— an awareness campaign to make Nova Scotians aware of the changes, the choices they can make and how they can opt out if they choose will start in early July
— the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act received unanimous support of the Nova Scotia Legislature when it passed in April 2019.

Additional Resources:

Legacy of Life: Nova Scotia Organ and Tissue Donation Program:

Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act:

Overview of the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act:

Nova Scotia health cards:

News release when legislation was introduced in April 2019:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *