Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Organ Donor Panel now paying for public input

An Ontario panel tasked with finding out what people think of becoming automatic organ donors is relying on paid focus groups after holding several public meetings across the province where no one showed up.

The panel has held 23 public meetings since it was appointed in November, but chairman Ted Boadway said the hearings were plagued by low turnout. The group is now gauging public opinion by paying for a dozen focus groups and conducting an online survey.

It's not that people don't care about organ donation, but rather the fact the meetings were scheduled to take place before Christmas and people simply didn't have time to attend, Boadway said.

"That's been a disappointment for us," he said. "People have a huge number of things pushed onto their plate each and every day. There's a huge clutter out there and it's very difficult to get through that clutter."

The panel, which has a $1-million budget, is paying a cross-section of people $50 each to discuss organ donation, including the concept of presumed consent, which would effectively make every eligible Ontario resident an automatic organ donor unless they opt out.

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