Ontario saw a 30 per cent rise in organ donations last year, but the urgency around the controversial topic remains. At the provincial level, there are almost 2,000 people waiting for a transplant; kidneys are at the top of the list, being the most essential organ.
However, there is somewhat of a disconnect in Ontario, and even across Canada as a whole, between the laws surrounding organ donation. Did you know that even if the deceased person has consented to donating their organs, the family has the right to step in and revoke the decision?
It is an extremely difficult task to ask a dying patient or their family if they’ve considered organ and tissue donation. On the other hand, it may be even harder to miss out on an opportunity to save a life. In Ontario, when an ordinarily healthy person dies unexpectedly, making their organs feasible for donation, there are a lot of hoops that medical professionals must jump through before they can actually harvest those organs for donation. For example, they have to make sure that the organs are in healthy working form and they have to check whether or not the deceased has consented to donating their organs. The sad truth of the matter is that only about 30 per cent of the eligible population have formally registered as organ donors.
On January 31, the Trillium Gift of Life Network was proud to announce that in 2016, deceased organ donation increased by 30 per cent, which ultimately lead to more lives being saved. From January to December of 2016, 351 deceased organ donors and 256 living organ donors gave the gift of life to a record 1,302 transplant recipients. According to Trillium Gift of Life Network, more families than ever before consented to organ donation, with a 40 per cent increase over 2015, marking a growing trend in families who choose donation for their loved ones. Nearly 2,400 tissue donors enhanced the lives of thousands through the gift of eyes, bone, skin and heart valves. Tissue donation has increased by 161 per cent in Ontario over the past decade.
“As we celebrate the successes of Ontario’s donation and transplantation system, let us remember the heroic donors and compassionate families who shared the gift of life,” said Ronnie Gavsie, President and CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network.
In 2016, nearly 285,000 people joined the growing list of 3.7 million Ontarians who continue to offer hope to the nearly 2000 patients waiting for an organ transplant by registering their consent for donation. The rise can be attributed to targeted awareness campaigns across the province at hospitals and in the community. Despite these growing numbers, approximately every three days a patient will die because they did not receive an organ transplant in time.
“Ontario remains committed to working with the Trillium Gift of Life Network to ensure that we increase the number of life-saving transplants and reduce wait times for patients requiring transplants,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care. “We have made great progress, and today more Ontarians are registered donors than ever before, but there is still more we can do. We must continue to discuss the importance of organ donation in Ontario and encourage donors to discuss their wishes with their families and formally register to be a donor.”
According to the Canadian Blood Services, there are approximately 4,600 Canadians on the waiting list for an organ transplant.
To be eligible to be a donor, a person must be at least 16 years of age and have a valid health card. There was a time where an organ donor card was to be signed by the person and then tucked away into their wallet as an indication of their consent, but those cards are no longer in use. Instead, you can now register online and have the information linked directly to your health card.
“Lives are saved. It’s dramatic. If you saw a person on the waitlist the day before the transplant, and then saw that person the day after, it seems miraculous, but it isn’t. It’s science. That person is suddenly breathing again, breathing freely. They wake up literally reborn,” said Gavsie. “People live who would have died.”
Registering to become an organ donor only takes a few minutes, and telling your next of kin about your decision will make sure that your wishes can be understood.
If donating your organs and saving a life is something of interest to you, please register at www.BeADonor.ca
-Loredana Del Bello, Assistant News Editor