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April 23, 2014
Just one organ donor can save up to eight lives, but at any given time there are more than 1,500 people in Ontario waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and every three days one of them dies waiting.
As the home of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program that has been providing innovative and life-saving care to transplant patients for more than 30 years, London Health Sciences Centre understands the importance of increasing awareness about organ and tissue donation. April 20 to 27 marks National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week and throughout April, staff and physicians at LHSC are participating in Trillium Gift of Life Network’s (TGLN) organ and tissue donation workplace registration drive, asking employees and their families to register their consent to be an organ and tissue donor at beadonor.ca/lhsc.
“We are fortunate that the London region has one of the highest organ donation rates across all of Canada. But in order to continue helping our patients through our transplant program, we need to continue increasing the number of people who have registered their consent to donate,” says Dr. Patrick Luke, Transplant Surgeon and co-director of LHSC’s MOTP. “It’s also important that family discussion take place so donation wishes are known.”
Organ donation in Ontario has tremendous support, but there is a lack of follow-through on intent. While 80 per cent of Ontarians say that giving consent for organ and tissue donation in advance is very important to them, less than 25 per cent have actually registered.
“At London Health Sciences Centre, our staff and physicians enhance and save the lives of patients every day. By participating in TGLN’s workplace registration drive, we are further demonstrating our commitment to caring for our patients, and helping to improve patient outcomes,” says Laurie Gould, Executive Vice President of Patient Centred Care at LHSC.
Nobody understands the impact and importance of organ donation more than transplant recipients and donor families. After spending half a lifetime with inherited hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that eventually caused congestive heart failure and other organ failure, 61-year-old Blake Ferguson found himself hospitalized and in need of a new heart to survive. On Oct. 9, 2010 he received a life-saving and life-altering transplant. “My life was returned to me thanks to the wonderful gift of an organ donor,” says Ferguson.
Blake Ferguson is a heart transplant recipient (he got his new heart in 2010) and on April 22 he helped raise awareness of the need to register your consent for organ donation at LHSC's University Hospital during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.
Rizwana Ramzanali credits a kidney-pancreas transplant 10 years ago for giving her freedom from years on dialysis and the need for insulin injections. “It was completely life-changing,” she says. “My quality of life now is like a breath of fresh air every day.”
Kathryn and Nigel Field take great comfort knowing that their son Josh lives on in six others after his organs were donated following his death in 2009. “It’s a way of keeping Josh alive in our minds, and just gives us so much comfort,” says Kathryn.
Registering consent to donate only takes two minutes. Visit beadonor.ca/lhsc.