Saturday, October 24, 2009

Organ Donation, some facts

Organ donation is quite close to my heart since as I write this my sister is waiting for a double lung transplant. But if I think back, I have had a number of run-ins with the need for organs in my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances. A coworker a number of years ago needed a bone marrow donor and never received it and passed away from the cancer. A friend of mine generously donated a part of her liver to give a anonymous child a chance to live (one of the most incredible acts ever to be honest). And now I have someone that needs a transplant to simply continue her life. It is that simple for the 4000+ Canadians that are waiting for organs and Natalia and I have met a number of them while attending her physio sessions at TGH. These are just people that want to continue with their lives. Some are like Natalia, who has known that one day she will need a transplant while most developed their disease later in life. This happens and it happens in a lot of families, yet organ donation is almost never discussed in a family setting.

I think that needs to change. In my very unscientific study, I really believe that most people are in favour of organ donation, and want to donate their organs at the end of their lives, but few sign their cards or even better, discuss their wishes with their loved ones. This will make all the difference in my opinion, and one day that decision will give someone a chance to live. Very few acts, especially ones that are this simple, can have such drastic outcomes, sign a piece of paper - one day a bunch of people live. Wow.

I also think that our governments need to treat this topic more seriously, as we all live longer and longer, I think the need for organs will increase will dramatically increase. Some countries have gone with the automatic opt-in system, meaning that unless you explicitly specify, your organs will be donated. Most countries are have not done this and like Canada depend on the very very few that donate. Here are some stats about organ transplants in Canada (2008)
  • There were 4330 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant.
  • 215 people died while waiting for an organ transplant.
  • 2083 trasplants took place. 1541 of those transplants were made possible because of deceased donors.
  • 80 people can benefit from a single donor.
  • Canada consistently has one of the worst organ donor rates of industrialized countries: about 13 donors per million people, compared with 20 per million in the U.S., and more than 31 per million in Spain (and Canadians think we are better than everybody.... i am not a doctor or a statistician, but this number of 13 is too low by many factors)
Those seem like quite low numbers to be honest, in a country with over 35 Million people (and i remind you that everyone dies at some point), I think there should be plenty of organs available for the 4000+ that are waiting. This Wikipedia article addresses a lot of the statistics worldwide.

So... go speak with your family and make sure they know and respect your wishes. It could save someones life.

1 comment:

Egg Donors said...

Great Post.....

I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

Thanks for sharing....

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