News

Ontario online organ donor registry 'glitch' lasted 18 months

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

BeADonor.ca

BeADonor.ca

TORONTO - 

A “technical” glitch in Ontario’s online organ donor registry went undetected for 18 months.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins said in a statement Tuesday that ServiceOntario.ca/BeADonor is now up and running, and almost 60,000 potential donors will be contacted by letter to update missing or inaccurate data.

“As soon as we discovered this issue, I took swift action to fix the problem,” Hoskins said. “We took the website down, resolved the technical issue, and the website is now back up so that people can continue to register as organ and tissue donors.”

The problem began on March 23, 2013, and persisted through to Sept. 19, 2014. According to the health ministry, the system incorrectly recorded “exclusions,” in which people consent to donate all organs and tissues with some exceptions.

Eighty-seven people on the registry died during that period, and the wishes of nine who donated tissue were carried out, the Trillium Gift of Life Network confirmed.

The online privacy of donors was not breached, and the problem did not extend to those who registered as donors in person at a ServiceOntario centre or by mail.

“I am pleased that this issue has been resolved quickly, and that we have put in place a number of ways for individuals to ensure this issue is fixed,” Hoskins said.

This is not the first major glitch for ServiceOntario, which had to shut down its driver’s licence/health card kiosks in 2012 after thieves stole debit and credit card information.

NDP health critic France Gelinas demanded an explanation for why the website failed to record accurate information for 18 months.

“A properly functioning organ donation system is vital to help patients in need and to respect the wishes of organ donors,” Gelinas said. “Patients and registered donors alike want to know how did this problem fly under the radar for a year and a half?

“How did this problem go undetected? And whether any registered donors’ wishes to donate were incorrectly denied after they passed away?”

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