The Gift of Life: Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, Op-Ed
The following is an op-ed from Dr. Stephen Beed, Clinical Advisor, Legacy of Life Program
The news of her daughter's passing took her by surprise. But through the mother's grief she made sure to fulfill her daughter's promise to give many others the gift of life.
Five families received phone calls that day informing them that they would receive her daughter's organs. Even more families benefitted from her tissue: corneas gave someone else sight, her skin covered a young burn patient and her heart valves went to a child born with a deformed valve.
As an intensive care doctor, I have seen many families comforted through their grief by being able to provide others with the gift of life. Yet, there are many Nova Scotians who do not realize that there is an urgent and significant need for organ and tissue donations.
In Atlantic Canada, about 285 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and hundreds more are waiting for tissue. In 2010, there were 19 organ donors in the province, and nearly 100 tissue donors. This number could be higher if more people made their wishes known and talked about organ and tissue donation with their families.
As laws change to keep people safer and technology becomes further advanced, Nova Scotians are living longer and the number of potential donors has decreased. But, tragedies do still happen.
A discussion with loved ones regarding your wish to be an organ and tissue donor will provide many more people with a second chance at life.
We don't know the future. Any one of us might be a donor, or find ourselves in desperate need of an organ or tissue transplant. Know that a decision to donate will make a real difference in the lives of others.
Legacy of Life is a provincial program of the Department of Health and Wellness that promotes organ and tissue donation awareness and education.
Visit legacyoflife.ns.ca to learn more and register as a donor, and remember to discuss your decision with your family.