By: Vanessa Marciano
A Record-breaking numbers of organ and tissue donors in Ontario registered in 2013, according to the Trillium Gift of Life Network.
As of Dec. 31, 2013, those who gave their consent totalled 2.84 million or 24 per cent, an increase of 58,922 registrations since Sept. 30, 2013.
“There’s so much more public awareness about organ donations, and many people may not realize what a profound difference can be made through tissue donations and the magnitude of the opportunity for tissue donations,” Ronnie Gavsie, president and CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network, told Humber News on Thursday.
Saving more lives by way of improving the system is the main mission for the Trillium Gift of Life Network, a not-for-profit agency of the government of Ontario. It’s also responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating and supporting organ and tissue donations across Ontario.
Hospitals are now helping to promote and increase organ and tissue donor registration in their communities and actively encouraging their staff to register consent for donations.
As the Trillium Gift of Life Network expands to more and more hospitals, the pool of potential donors increases, as the number of hospitals that are partnering with them increases.
While one organ donor can save up to eight lives, a single tissue donor can enhance the lives of up to 75 people, the Trillium website says.
Tissue donations includes eye tissue, skin, heart valves, bone, tendons, veins, and ligaments.
“Our current data indicates that 30 per cent of hospital deaths have potential for tissue donation, as compared to 2 per cent with potential to make organ donations,” said Gavsie.
Registering to be a donor can be done in person, by mail or online. All that’s needed is a valid health card number and basic information such as date of birth to meet the age requirement of at least 16-years old. Registration is free.
More than 85 per cent of Ontarians are in favour of organ donation. However, less than 25 per cent have registered their consent to donate.
Cathy Alfano, a recent organ and tissue donor from Woodbridge, Ont., heard on Twitter about a four-month old named Joseph Sargeant, who was waiting for a heart transplant. After following his story, and trying to promote donation through social media, she felt the need to research what it was all about.
“I realized how that could be one of my children waiting for a transplant and what would I do,” she said. “The answer would be, ‘How couldn’t I not be a donor if I would be willing to accept someone else’s organ or tissue donation to save my life or my child?’”
Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has helped promote awareness to potential donors after a fan needing a transplant reached out to him on Twitter.
“We can say without question, that the greatest champion of public awareness is the media, whether it is press releases, personal stories, or tweets – which is how Justin Bieber got involved. It is not the tweet itself, it is the media’s attention to the tweet that brings about public awareness,” said Gavsie.