NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

A push for change

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 3, 2013

Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny has been pushing for a system in the NWT which would add a sticker to driver's licences declaring one's willingness to be an organ donor.

"There are many other MLAs who have brought this forward, and it's fallen on deaf ears," he told Yellowknifer, adding he plans to bring forward a motion on this issue during the next legislative assembly session and, if necessary, will gather support for a private member's bill.

"We are riding of the tail coats of a national program that is very loosely designed here in the NWT in conjunction with the HOPE Foundation," said Dolynny when asked why the current organ transplant system in the NWT needs an update.

However, for Nancy Potts, adding a sticker to the NWT driver's licence would not go far enough.

"What I would love to see is a national database for organ donation, and I think it needs to be an electronic database," she said. "We need an opt-out system as opposed to opt-in."

The current system lists potential transplant patients by region, with NWT patients included in the Alberta region, along with parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia.

"I do feel that in the west, including the territories, we are disadvantaged when it comes to the availability of organs because of the population and also the organ donor rates," she said.

On top of the emotional toll of having a loved one in hospital in Edmonton waiting for a new organ, Yellowknifers must contend with busy travel schedules and the many costs associated with maintaining a home here and securing a place to stay down south.

"I wouldn't wish this on anybody. It's extremely difficult on our relationship because she's been down there since September," said Matthew Brost, who has been flying back and forth between his twins and wife in Alberta and his three other children in Yellowknife, all while managing a small business, Renewable Resources Plus.

The Department of Health and Social Services covers the transportation costs for one family member to fly to Edmonton every 21 days, which Brost says he appreciates.

"I definitely think there needs to be some kind of medical travel, depending on where you're from and your income," said Potts.

Potts left her Yellowknife home in the care of neighbours while she and Gary rented an apartment across the street from the hospital since November 2012.

"I did worry about it. I worried about the money and I worried about myself," she said. "That's not exactly what you want to be doing when you're in that situation."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.