Consider tissue and organ donations

Education is one of the most critical components of any campaign.

Education is one of the most critical components of any campaign. People need to understand why they should become involved and then they have to make the decision that yes, they want to participate.

This week’s news that the Alberta government is launching an online organ and tissue donor registry should be greeted with enthusiasm yet consternation about why it took so long.

Years and years ago, we heard speakers extoll the virtues of organ and tissue transplants. The first heart transplant was done in South Africa in 1967. Since then many, many people have lived to contribute more through their lives after transplants.

People have had sight improved through cornea transplants. The first took place in 1905 making it one of the first types of transplant surgery successfully performed.

Blood donations, perhaps another facet of transplantation, have been sought for years through highly publicized campaigns and many have responded. In that case the need is for saving lives of those critically injured, suffering diseases or needing surgery.

Now back to the provincial government. Their goal is to “increase organ and donor rates in Alberta, which have dropped by nearly 40 per cent over the last decade”.

Why such a drop, when our population continues to grow? Is it because people haven’t been asked to consider signing the donor information on the back of the Alberta Personal Health Care?

We suspect that it’s because people haven’t been prompted to have the discussion, they haven’t been educated about the benefits to others, and obviously they haven’t made the decision.

“One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is donating our organs and tissues,” said Health Minister Fred Horne in announcing the new program. “With more than 500 Albertans waiting for an organ transplant and many more waiting for tissues, registering your consent to donate on the new donor registry can make a profound difference in someone’s life.”

The new online registry provides Albertans with a quick and easy way to record their consent.

This spring the online donor registry will be available to registry agents, giving Albertans the opportunity to register their intent when they renew or apply for their driver’s licence or other identification.

We strongly recommend you consider this opportunity and discuss your wishes with your family.

One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and improve the lives of up to 75 other people, according to statistics with the government announcement.