Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the province needs to do a better job of honouring people who have committed to donating organs and tissue upon death. As we reported previously, Southern Health has confirmed that rural hospitals generally do not have the expertise to harvest organs and tissue except, in some instances, eyes. Therefore, they are unable to honour the wishes of people who have signed organ donor cards. Friesen says studies are in progress to try and change this.
"We have a number of different provincial workstreams that are, right now, working to develop provincial plans in areas of emergency medicine, in areas of children's health and cardiac care, primary care, and one of those workstreams will actually address this issue (organ donation). So I can tell Manitobans, stay tuned. As we continue to coordinate our health care system, make it more efficient, make it more responsive and put the patient in the centre of it, we are going to be able to address challenges, including organ donation, and come up with a better strategic provincial model."
Friesen says he is unable to give a timeline as to when there will be a better system of accepting organ donations at rural hospitals. But he adds the provincial clinical and preventive services planning teams will be reporting back to the government this spring with a blueprint.
"That will form our starting point, that will be the baseline from which we proceed and start to make some very significant changes in the health care system."
Friesen says the retrieval of organs and tissue for transplant is highly complex and that is what makes this such a challenge for rural hospitals.