You have the green light to save a life
April 22-28 is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week
This week we remind Canadians to talk with their friends, family and loved ones to ensure their organ donation wishes and decisions are understood.
(OTTAWA) – On April 25th, National Green Light Day will see landmarks across the country lit green to commemorate National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week (April 22-28). From coast to coast these landmarks will remind Canadians of those who have died waiting for transplants, and express gratitude to organ and tissue donors and their families for giving the greatest gift of all.
“The greatest gift of all was given to me when I received my heart,” says Crystal Prowse of Newfoundland and Labrador, who this year celebrates 30 years of life since receiving her transplant at University Hospital in London, Ontario, when she was just 11 years old. “This gift has given me the opportunity to get an education, pursue a career, get married, and become an aunt.” Crystal's goal this year, in honour of her 30 years of memories thanks to transplant, is to raise awareness about the need for organ donation.
“There are so many patients in critical need of transplant,” says Crystal. “But these are lives that can still be saved. I recognize that conversations about organ donation can be uncomfortable but these are conversations that need to be had."
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. According to public opinion polls, almost 90 per cent of Canadians support organ and tissue donation but only 20 per cent have registered their decision.
This week, Canadians are reminded to wear a green ribbon pin 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. All Canadians are encouraged to register their intent to donate and are reminded to have the important conversation with loved ones about their organ donation wishes. With clear understanding of our donation wishes, our families can make the right decision in the face of tragedy.
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On Feb. 4, 1997, a National Organ Donor Awareness Week was enacted through Bill C-202. This bill was brought forward by former Member of Parliament, the honourable Dan McTeague. The third week of April was chosen to mark the occasion and to commemorate the death of Stuart Herriott, a toddler killed in a motor vehicle incident in McTeague’s riding of Pickering-Scarborough East. Parents of two-and-a-half-year-old Stuart donated his organs and in turn, helped to save and improve the lives of four others. The intent of the Bill was to encourage education and awareness about donation and allow Parliament to take a leadership role in addressing the scarcity of organs and thinking about those who die every year waiting for a transplant.
Today, a national working group focused on public education and awareness that includes members of each of the provincial organ donation organizations, and is facilitated by Canadian Blood Services’ organ and tissue donation and transplantation program, works collaboratively on events and initiatives to celebrate NOTDAW and to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation.