Support for organ donation surges during April awareness month

Throughout April and National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, Canadians responded in the tens of thousands by registering their organ donation decisions, and talking with friends, family and loved ones to ensure their wishes are known.  


(OTTAWA) – More than 100,000 Canadians registered their intent to donate in support of organ and tissue donation during the month of April – a record month and year for registrations. Touched by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy and Logan Boulet’s life-saving gift, Canadians were reminded of the importance of registering and were inspired to take action.    

Organ donation after death accounts for the majority of organ transplants in Canada as one donor can provide the life-saving gift for as many as eight people, and provide tissue for up to 75 patients in need. Deceased donors have suffered a sudden and catastrophic brain injury and despite all medical efforts, die in a way that allows them to provide the gift of life to others. Despite this tragedy, they or their families agree to donate organs to prevent the death of a fellow Canadian. 

Laurie Blackstock of Ottawa knows first-hand the impact of such a decision. In 2017 her husband Stephen Belliveau became a donor after non-stop seizures led to neurological death. In the years prior, Laurie and Stephen had discussed organ donation and had registered their decision.

“Organ and tissue donation doesn’t just help the recipients and their families, it also can be an incredible gift to bereaved families when presented gently and ethically, at the right time, when there is little or no hope of their loved one’s survival,” says Laurie. “Knowing that five people’s lives improved dramatically with Stephen’s lungs, kidneys and corneas didn’t change the depth and intensity of our grief over the past year, but it did give us moments of relief. Stephen lives on through them.”

Talking to family members and registering to be an organ and tissue donor is so important. When families have a clear understanding of their loved one’s organ donation wishes it helps them to make the best possible decision in the face of tragedy. 

Green is the official colour of organ and tissue donation, symbolizing the hope organ donors provide to patients in need. Throughout April, Canadians wore green ribbon pins to honour the donors and donor families who gave the gift of life and to acknowledge the thousands of patients in need of a transplant as well as those who have died waiting. Members of the National Hockey League and media continue to wear the ribbons during the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a tribute to the Humboldt Broncos. 

Approximately 4,500 Canadians are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and many more are waiting for tissue. Sadly, on average, 250 Canadians die each year waiting for a transplant.

Canadians have a valuable role to play in continuing to support this critical work.  We urge all Canadians to take action and talk to their families about organ donation, discuss their wishes and register their intent to become a donor by signing up to their provincial organ and tissue donation registry, where available. 

Register your decision to donate at organtissuedonation.ca or donnezorganestissus.ca.

Backgrounder 

The national registration number is based upon provincial registration figures provided by Canada’s has 10 provincial/territorial organ donation organizations/programs (linked below), who are tasked with allocating, facilitating and promoting organ and tissue donation and transplantation within their specified jurisdictions.

Canadian Blood Services works with these programs as well as the wider organ donation and transplantation community in Canada to increase donation and transplantation rates, provide patients with the best possible chances to receive transplants with optimal outcomes, and give families the opportunity to facilitate their loved one’s wishes to become an organ donor.

In addition, Canadian Blood Services’ organ and tissue donation and transplantation program facilitates a national working group made up of members from the provincial organizations below, and is focused on national public education and awareness for organ and tissue donation.

The national working group includes representation from:
Organ Procurement & Exchange of Newfoundland & Labrador New Brunswick Horizon Health Network Saskatchewan Transplant Program
Provincial Organ & Tissue Donation & Transplantation Program, Health PEI Transplant Quebec Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Agency, Alberta Health Services
Legacy of Life Nova Scotia Organ Donation Program Trillium Gift of Life Network BC Transplant
  Transplant Manitoba Gift of Life Canadian Blood Services 
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