Organ and tissue donation law now in effect

At any given time in Nova Scotia, there are more than 100 people waiting for a lifesaving or life-changing transplant. That is why Nova Scotia passed the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, which takes effect today, Jan. 18.

A key part of the legislation is deemed consent for organ and tissue donation. This means people who do not record a decision regarding donation on their health card and are eligible to donate, will be considered as having agreed to be a donor after death.

“Our province is the first place in North America to have legislation that maximizes organ and tissue donations to save more lives, while fully respecting people’s ability to participate or not,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “I am proud of the support I have seen and heard from Nova Scotians, our partners and our health-care community. I want to thank the many donor families and recipients who courageously share their emotional stories and help spread the word about the importance of organ and tissue donation.”

Families will continue to be consulted about their loved ones’ wishes regarding organ or tissue donation. All Nova Scotians are encouraged to:

  • decide – learn more about organ and tissue donation and make their decision
  • discuss – talk with those closest to them so they can support their decision
  • register – record their decision

Some Nova Scotians are not eligible for deemed consent. Examples include:

  • 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 can do so anytime 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:

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 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 for valves, bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments
  • Nova Scotians who want to donate their organs and tissues can continue to indicate this through their health cards. Those with cards that are not up for renewal can indicate they would like to donate by filling out the form at: Donation decisions are recorded in the province’s health card registry
  • the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act received unanimous support of the Nova Scotia Legislature when it passed in April 2019


“When the legislation was introduced in 2019, I had the privilege to be a part of that day. I had the opportunity to tell my story and be a face and a name behind the importance of organ and tissue donation. To see the excitement and support from Nova Scotians that day and everyday since has been truly heart warming.” Cindy Ryan, two-time liver transplant recipient

“Organ and tissue donation is more important than many of us realize, for the people and families it directly affects, and for our society. This legislation will allow for more Nova Scotians to receive lifesaving organ or tissue transplants and is a positive and true transformational change in health care in Nova Scotia. Our health-care teams are committed to ensure optimal end of life care is provided to families by optimizing donation, which will contribute to more Nova Scotians being able to live healthier and longer lives after successful organ or tissue transplantation.” Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of the Nova Scotia Organ and Tissue Donation Program, Nova Scotia Health Authority.

“Transplantation of tissues goes on every day in hospitals across Canada and makes a huge difference for people of all ages. This legislation allows for the benefit of donation to extend to more donors and more recipients, all of whom benefit from the very altruistic act of donation.” Dr. Michael Gross, medical director of the Regional Tissue Bank Program, Nova Scotia Health Authority.

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:

Registering your donation decision:

MSI Registration and enquiry:

News release when legislation was introduced in April 2019:

News release when legislation was proclaimed in June 2020: