Did you know that one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of up to 75 more through the gift of tissue ? Today, in Ontario, there are over 1,500 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. This is their only treatment option, and every 3 days someone will die because they did not get their transplant in time.
You could be the answer to these people's prayers. Along with the will to donate, in order to register as an organ donor, you only need three things:
1. to be at least 16 years old
2. to provide your date of birth
3. your health card number and version code (if applicable)
If you think your age, or an illness will disqualify you from becoming a donor, you are wrong! The oldest organ donor was over 90 and the oldest tissue donor was over 100. There’s always potential to be a donor; it shouldn’t stop you from registering. People with serious illnesses can, sometimes, be organ and/or tissue donors. Each potential donor is evaluated on a case-by-case basis either while alive or after death.
Half of all Canadians are fit to donate blood, but only 1 in 60 Canadians gave blood last year. Our organ donation rates are also lower than many countries, including the United States. It really is "in you to give". Donating blood will not make you weak, because blood cells have the ability to regenerate. The plasma from your blood is replaced within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That is why there needs to be a mandatory eight weeks time period between consecutive blood donations.
If you want to know more about blood donation, here's a list of FAQ's from the Canadian Blood Services website.
Also, if you think donating your organs or tissue means not being able to have an open casket funeral, you are wrong! An open casket funeral is possible. My grandparents donated their eyes, and even though their eyes were closed for visitation, the transplant technician placed fake eyeballs in the eye sockets to prevent the skin from falling back into the hollow space.
I also distinctly remember a young biker who died in the ER and had pledged all viable organs for donation. His kidneys, heart, lung, liver and eyes were harvested for donation, and trust me, if you didn't know it, you wouldn't guess he had donated all those organs. Transplant surgeons and funeral homes do a pretty good job of making a person look like their normal selves after organ donations.
You need to register your consent to donate, even if you signed a donor card, to ensure the information is recorded with the Ontario government. When needed, the Trillium Gift of Life Network will use this record to confirm your consent. They will also reaffirm your consent with your family. In almost all cases, families honour and respect their loved ones’ donation decision if they have evidence that it’s what they wanted.
However, registering as a donor is the only secure and guaranteed way to make your decision known.
Learn more about organ and tissue donation by browsing FAQs on the beadonor.ca website, or take action today. Register your consent for organ and tissue donation and talk to your family and friends about your wishes. Make sure you record your wishes in your Advance Care Plan. I emphasise on this point, because, if the family refuses to donate the deceased person's organs, doctors are not allowed to harvest the organs even if the deceased person is a registered donor.
If you are considering organ or tissue donation and need more information, help or guidance, we at in4MED, can make this decision making process easier for you by providing relevant information, connecting you to local resources and support systems, and being there for you as your trusted health advocates. As always, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment.
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
Organ and Tissue Donation: The Facts
Blood, organ and tissue donation
FAQs: National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.
*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.