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Being a Donor

At age 16, youth in Canada can register to donate organs or tissues to those in need. According to Ontario.ca, this choice can, “one day, save up to 8 lives”. And according to beadonor.ca, this decision can enhance the life of up to 75 others. How is this possible?

What is organ/tissue donation and why is it important?

In Ontario, all organ and tissue donations are managed by Trillium Gift of Life Network. They support a long waitlist of thousands of individuals waiting for heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, small intestines, eyes, bone, skin, and heart valves.

In the right circumstances, those registered as donors under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will be able to save lives after death by donating these organs or tissues.

Registration is incredibly important as it is a clear form of consent from the individual and prevents their family from having to make that difficult decision on their behalf.

Having a lot of the population register is also important because although thousands are waiting for transplants, only 3% of hospital deaths occur in a way that could lead to organ donation (Note that it is not the same for tissue donation). That’s not to say there will be a perfect match, either.

You are five times more likely to need an organ transplant during your lifetime than to have the opportunity to donate one”

Being an organ donor will give hope and life back to the patient waiting for the transplant, but for their families, too. Certain people who may be waiting for transplants may include those suffering from cystic fibrosis, cancers, diabetes, and more.

Read stories here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/helping-you-to-decide/real-life-stories/people-who-are-waiting-for-a-transplant/ace-waiting-for-a-kidney-transplant/

Who can register as a donor?

Anybody over the age of 16 can register as a donor in Ontario, regardless of sexual orientation, medical history, or age thereafter. Potential transplants are investigated on a case-by-case basis, so there are no overarching caps or limits on donations.

How do I register?

  • Be at least 16 years old

  • Provide your date of birth

  • Prepare health card number

You can input your information into Online Organ and Tissue Donor Registration (Ontario). This is a confidential process and will never affect how one is treated in a medical care facility. For other provinces, please see the government of Canada’s website: Become an organ and tissue donor (Other provinces and territories).

What can I donate while living?

There are many other shortages that one can fulfill while living!

  • Blood: There is a consistent need for blood products, especially amid COVID-19, such as platelets (which help blood clot), red blood cells (which carry oxygenated and deoxygenated blood), and blood plasma (which can carry disease-fighting antibodies). Because of how much blood centres take and how blood typing, many donors may be required for a single patient. For instance, 50 donors may be needed to save the life of someone who was in a car accident. To check donation availability and donate: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/healthy-living/blood-organ-tissue-donation.html#a1

  • Stem cells: Stem cells are cells that have yet to specialize. They are immature blood cells that can become essential red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. When a person has a disease that affects their bone marrow, they cannot produce stem cells and require transplantations. To check donation availability and donate: https://www.blood.ca/en/stemcells

  • Kidneys, part of the lung, a lobe of the lung: Can all be donated while the donor is living. To check donation availability and donate: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10uF7iId72iiGcyaEIOAFGXaWIn8p9_t3uXbmbEMyiew/edit

It is a priceless opportunity to give the gift of life to those who need it most. Please consider joining one or more of these registries: It is more essential now, more than ever, as hospitals become overwhelmed with patients, that the people come together and support one another as best as we can.

Featured image courtesy of Puwadon Sang-ngern via Pexels

Article Author: Linda Duong

Article Editors: Valerie Shirobokov, Victoria Huang