Choose the gift of life

by DaniGirl on April 23, 2007 · 44 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything

It’s National Organ Donation Week in Canada.

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that this is an annual post for me. I wrote about it in 2005 and again in 2006. And you know what? I’ll write about it again in 2008 and 2009. I’ll keep writing about it, and I’ll keep talking about it, because somebody in Canada dies every three days waiting for an organ donation. Every three days a family loses a father, a mother, a brother, a sister – or a child – because there simply aren’t enough organs for all the people on waiting lists. A single donor can make a difference in as many as fifty people’s lives. And that’s just the recipients; think of the families of all those people given a second chance at life, or the chance to overcome blindness, or the chance at restored mobility through a bone graft.

Here in Canada, we have one of the lowest donor rates in the industrialized world. There has been a call for a national donor registrant database (but because health is a provincial / territorial jurisdiction, it would be hard to manage on a national level.) In a pilot program in BC, living donors are reimbursed for expenses like travel costs and lost wages. Ontario is considering a similar program. Ontario has recently decided against an ‘opt-out’ approach to organ donations after an expert panel recommended against it. The same article noted that almost half of the families of people who would make good donors are saying no.

That’s one of the major problems: even if you have signed an organ donor card, that information may not be immediately available when it’s most needed. Doctors often must rely on family members for consent, and if your family doesn’t know what you want, your wishes might not be respected. Another article notes: “Studies show about 50% of Canadians are unaware of what their loved ones wanted regarding organ and tissue donations. Yet 96% of relatives in Canada agree to organ donation if they’re aware that their deceased loved one was in favour of donating.” It’s not enough to simply register as an organ donor; you have to talk to your family and make your wishes known.

Organ donation is an issue close to my heart: my dad had a life-saving liver transplant in 2001, when I was six months pregnant with Tristan. My boys are blissfully oblivious to how close we all came to losing Papa Lou. I never forget it.

I was playing with Simon in the car the other day. We were being silly, laughing together, and I said, “Who loves you the most in the whole wide world, Simon?” And Simon didn’t even stop to think about it. “Papa Lou!” he cried with delight. Not me, or Beloved. Not even Granny, who spoils him with lollipops and marshmallows and just about every other thing his little heart desires. Papa Lou, whom he would have never met if it weren’t for the lifegiving generosity of an organ donor and his or her family.

Sign your donor card and tell your family. Choose the gift of life.


{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 cinnamon gurl April 23, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Great post! I signed my donor card but haven’t really thought about talking to my family. I’ll be sure to now.

2 cinnamon gurl April 23, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Great post! I signed my donor card but haven’t really thought about talking to my family. I’ll be sure to now.

3 cinnamon gurl April 23, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Great post! I signed my donor card but haven’t really thought about talking to my family. I’ll be sure to now.

4 cinnamon gurl April 23, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Great post! I signed my donor card but haven’t really thought about talking to my family. I’ll be sure to now.

5 nancy April 23, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Our entire family knows that we are all donors, if need be. The example of Papa Lou always warms my heart, and I have passed along his ‘story’ many times.
Great post.

6 nancy April 23, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Our entire family knows that we are all donors, if need be. The example of Papa Lou always warms my heart, and I have passed along his ‘story’ many times.
Great post.

7 nancy April 23, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Our entire family knows that we are all donors, if need be. The example of Papa Lou always warms my heart, and I have passed along his ‘story’ many times.
Great post.

8 nancy April 23, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Our entire family knows that we are all donors, if need be. The example of Papa Lou always warms my heart, and I have passed along his ‘story’ many times.
Great post.

9 Domestic_Goddess April 23, 2007 at 4:06 pm

As someone who’s been on the receiving end of tissue donation (I had a cornea transplant nearly 3 years ago) this is an issue that I stand firmly behind as well. I had to wait for a long time for that cornea. If more people were better informed about tissue and organ donation (and the processes involved in consenting to it) folks would have a much easier time dealing with their illnesses and waiting for the treatment that is available to them.
Everyone in my family is well aware of my feelings on the subject and I have encouraged all of them to sign their donor cards. I’ve signed mine.

10 Domestic_Goddess April 23, 2007 at 4:06 pm

As someone who’s been on the receiving end of tissue donation (I had a cornea transplant nearly 3 years ago) this is an issue that I stand firmly behind as well. I had to wait for a long time for that cornea. If more people were better informed about tissue and organ donation (and the processes involved in consenting to it) folks would have a much easier time dealing with their illnesses and waiting for the treatment that is available to them.
Everyone in my family is well aware of my feelings on the subject and I have encouraged all of them to sign their donor cards. I’ve signed mine.

11 Domestic_Goddess April 23, 2007 at 4:06 pm

As someone who’s been on the receiving end of tissue donation (I had a cornea transplant nearly 3 years ago) this is an issue that I stand firmly behind as well. I had to wait for a long time for that cornea. If more people were better informed about tissue and organ donation (and the processes involved in consenting to it) folks would have a much easier time dealing with their illnesses and waiting for the treatment that is available to them.
Everyone in my family is well aware of my feelings on the subject and I have encouraged all of them to sign their donor cards. I’ve signed mine.

12 Domestic_Goddess April 23, 2007 at 4:06 pm

As someone who’s been on the receiving end of tissue donation (I had a cornea transplant nearly 3 years ago) this is an issue that I stand firmly behind as well. I had to wait for a long time for that cornea. If more people were better informed about tissue and organ donation (and the processes involved in consenting to it) folks would have a much easier time dealing with their illnesses and waiting for the treatment that is available to them.
Everyone in my family is well aware of my feelings on the subject and I have encouraged all of them to sign their donor cards. I’ve signed mine.

13 Buck April 23, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for a wonderful and thoughtful post. I’m in the U.S. but, as I’m sure you’re aware, we have the same problem with donation. Even many of our states have a scattered approach to the subject. In my own state of South Carolina we are just, this week, looking at a bill that would create a statewide registry. However, it would not answer the question of whether families should have the final say regardless of the deceased’s wishes.
I received a life saving liver transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in January of 2007. I am now a speaker on the miracle of transplant surgery and proponent of donation.

14 Buck April 23, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for a wonderful and thoughtful post. I’m in the U.S. but, as I’m sure you’re aware, we have the same problem with donation. Even many of our states have a scattered approach to the subject. In my own state of South Carolina we are just, this week, looking at a bill that would create a statewide registry. However, it would not answer the question of whether families should have the final say regardless of the deceased’s wishes.
I received a life saving liver transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in January of 2007. I am now a speaker on the miracle of transplant surgery and proponent of donation.

15 Buck April 23, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for a wonderful and thoughtful post. I’m in the U.S. but, as I’m sure you’re aware, we have the same problem with donation. Even many of our states have a scattered approach to the subject. In my own state of South Carolina we are just, this week, looking at a bill that would create a statewide registry. However, it would not answer the question of whether families should have the final say regardless of the deceased’s wishes.
I received a life saving liver transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in January of 2007. I am now a speaker on the miracle of transplant surgery and proponent of donation.

16 Buck April 23, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for a wonderful and thoughtful post. I’m in the U.S. but, as I’m sure you’re aware, we have the same problem with donation. Even many of our states have a scattered approach to the subject. In my own state of South Carolina we are just, this week, looking at a bill that would create a statewide registry. However, it would not answer the question of whether families should have the final say regardless of the deceased’s wishes.
I received a life saving liver transplant at the Medical University of South Carolina in January of 2007. I am now a speaker on the miracle of transplant surgery and proponent of donation.

17 wesleyjeanne April 23, 2007 at 5:08 pm

I used to work for an Organ Donor Organization as a counselor/family support person. It was my job to ask the families of people who were not going to survive a trauma if they would donate their loved ones’ organs. Believe me, that task was much easier if a person had already discussed their wishes–either way–with their loved ones. I always felt such a loss when loved ones said no, because I knew that meant more families would suffer the loss of loved ones waiting for a transplant. I was always amazed and touched, however, by those families who could see through their pain to help others in such an amazing way. Every “yes” meant more families like yours had more time with those they love.
Thank you Thank you Thank you for your post.

18 wesleyjeanne April 23, 2007 at 5:08 pm

I used to work for an Organ Donor Organization as a counselor/family support person. It was my job to ask the families of people who were not going to survive a trauma if they would donate their loved ones’ organs. Believe me, that task was much easier if a person had already discussed their wishes–either way–with their loved ones. I always felt such a loss when loved ones said no, because I knew that meant more families would suffer the loss of loved ones waiting for a transplant. I was always amazed and touched, however, by those families who could see through their pain to help others in such an amazing way. Every “yes” meant more families like yours had more time with those they love.
Thank you Thank you Thank you for your post.

19 wesleyjeanne April 23, 2007 at 5:08 pm

I used to work for an Organ Donor Organization as a counselor/family support person. It was my job to ask the families of people who were not going to survive a trauma if they would donate their loved ones’ organs. Believe me, that task was much easier if a person had already discussed their wishes–either way–with their loved ones. I always felt such a loss when loved ones said no, because I knew that meant more families would suffer the loss of loved ones waiting for a transplant. I was always amazed and touched, however, by those families who could see through their pain to help others in such an amazing way. Every “yes” meant more families like yours had more time with those they love.
Thank you Thank you Thank you for your post.

20 wesleyjeanne April 23, 2007 at 5:08 pm

I used to work for an Organ Donor Organization as a counselor/family support person. It was my job to ask the families of people who were not going to survive a trauma if they would donate their loved ones’ organs. Believe me, that task was much easier if a person had already discussed their wishes–either way–with their loved ones. I always felt such a loss when loved ones said no, because I knew that meant more families would suffer the loss of loved ones waiting for a transplant. I was always amazed and touched, however, by those families who could see through their pain to help others in such an amazing way. Every “yes” meant more families like yours had more time with those they love.
Thank you Thank you Thank you for your post.

21 BeachMama April 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm

And every year I choke up reading your donor post. I am pretty sure everyone here knows my wishes, but I will be sure to remind them again today. Thanks Dani, for sharing your story.

22 BeachMama April 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm

And every year I choke up reading your donor post. I am pretty sure everyone here knows my wishes, but I will be sure to remind them again today. Thanks Dani, for sharing your story.

23 BeachMama April 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm

And every year I choke up reading your donor post. I am pretty sure everyone here knows my wishes, but I will be sure to remind them again today. Thanks Dani, for sharing your story.

24 BeachMama April 23, 2007 at 6:33 pm

And every year I choke up reading your donor post. I am pretty sure everyone here knows my wishes, but I will be sure to remind them again today. Thanks Dani, for sharing your story.

25 mamatulip April 23, 2007 at 6:40 pm

Thank you for writing this. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know it’s Organ Donation week, and I should know, because like your father, my mom was also a liver transplant recipient.
Organ donation is so important. I have a keychain that we got from the MORE clinic when my mom got put on the waiting list and it says, “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here!”
It’s true.

26 mamatulip April 23, 2007 at 6:40 pm

Thank you for writing this. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know it’s Organ Donation week, and I should know, because like your father, my mom was also a liver transplant recipient.
Organ donation is so important. I have a keychain that we got from the MORE clinic when my mom got put on the waiting list and it says, “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here!”
It’s true.

27 mamatulip April 23, 2007 at 6:40 pm

Thank you for writing this. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know it’s Organ Donation week, and I should know, because like your father, my mom was also a liver transplant recipient.
Organ donation is so important. I have a keychain that we got from the MORE clinic when my mom got put on the waiting list and it says, “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here!”
It’s true.

28 mamatulip April 23, 2007 at 6:40 pm

Thank you for writing this. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know it’s Organ Donation week, and I should know, because like your father, my mom was also a liver transplant recipient.
Organ donation is so important. I have a keychain that we got from the MORE clinic when my mom got put on the waiting list and it says, “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here!”
It’s true.

29 DaniGirl April 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Mamatulip, I have that same logo on a t-shirt!
Thank you all for your kind comments, and welcome to a few new faces. Look at what a difference transplants have made in just this very small community of readers – and extrapolate that to the larger public. It takes so little, and you truly have nothing to lose.

30 DaniGirl April 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Mamatulip, I have that same logo on a t-shirt!
Thank you all for your kind comments, and welcome to a few new faces. Look at what a difference transplants have made in just this very small community of readers – and extrapolate that to the larger public. It takes so little, and you truly have nothing to lose.

31 DaniGirl April 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Mamatulip, I have that same logo on a t-shirt!
Thank you all for your kind comments, and welcome to a few new faces. Look at what a difference transplants have made in just this very small community of readers – and extrapolate that to the larger public. It takes so little, and you truly have nothing to lose.

32 DaniGirl April 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Mamatulip, I have that same logo on a t-shirt!
Thank you all for your kind comments, and welcome to a few new faces. Look at what a difference transplants have made in just this very small community of readers – and extrapolate that to the larger public. It takes so little, and you truly have nothing to lose.

33 julie April 23, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Dani, thanks for reminding me to tell my extended family about my wishes. My hubby knows I feel strongly about donating anything they’ll take, but my parents and siblings probably didn’t – until today.

34 julie April 23, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Dani, thanks for reminding me to tell my extended family about my wishes. My hubby knows I feel strongly about donating anything they’ll take, but my parents and siblings probably didn’t – until today.

35 julie April 23, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Dani, thanks for reminding me to tell my extended family about my wishes. My hubby knows I feel strongly about donating anything they’ll take, but my parents and siblings probably didn’t – until today.

36 julie April 23, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Dani, thanks for reminding me to tell my extended family about my wishes. My hubby knows I feel strongly about donating anything they’ll take, but my parents and siblings probably didn’t – until today.

37 liz April 24, 2007 at 3:17 am

My whole family knows I’m an organ donor!
Big hugs to you and Papa Lou!

38 liz April 24, 2007 at 3:17 am

My whole family knows I’m an organ donor!
Big hugs to you and Papa Lou!

39 liz April 24, 2007 at 3:17 am

My whole family knows I’m an organ donor!
Big hugs to you and Papa Lou!

40 liz April 24, 2007 at 3:17 am

My whole family knows I’m an organ donor!
Big hugs to you and Papa Lou!

41 Fawn April 24, 2007 at 8:57 pm

What a beautiful post.
I first signed an organ donation card when I lived in Ottawa, but now that I’m in Yukon, I don’t know if anyone would be able to benefit from my organs… transportation might be an issue. You’ve given me the idea that I should look into it, if only for the knowledge.
I also used to donate blood (which is something most of us can do on an ongoing basis) but they don’t have the facilities to store and process donated blood here.
I just wanted to thank you for remembering that health is a provincial AND territorial mandate. Most folks “down south” never think about us territories up here! And we definitely have some unique considerations in the north.

42 Fawn April 24, 2007 at 8:57 pm

What a beautiful post.
I first signed an organ donation card when I lived in Ottawa, but now that I’m in Yukon, I don’t know if anyone would be able to benefit from my organs… transportation might be an issue. You’ve given me the idea that I should look into it, if only for the knowledge.
I also used to donate blood (which is something most of us can do on an ongoing basis) but they don’t have the facilities to store and process donated blood here.
I just wanted to thank you for remembering that health is a provincial AND territorial mandate. Most folks “down south” never think about us territories up here! And we definitely have some unique considerations in the north.

43 Fawn April 24, 2007 at 8:57 pm

What a beautiful post.
I first signed an organ donation card when I lived in Ottawa, but now that I’m in Yukon, I don’t know if anyone would be able to benefit from my organs… transportation might be an issue. You’ve given me the idea that I should look into it, if only for the knowledge.
I also used to donate blood (which is something most of us can do on an ongoing basis) but they don’t have the facilities to store and process donated blood here.
I just wanted to thank you for remembering that health is a provincial AND territorial mandate. Most folks “down south” never think about us territories up here! And we definitely have some unique considerations in the north.

44 Fawn April 24, 2007 at 8:57 pm

What a beautiful post.
I first signed an organ donation card when I lived in Ottawa, but now that I’m in Yukon, I don’t know if anyone would be able to benefit from my organs… transportation might be an issue. You’ve given me the idea that I should look into it, if only for the knowledge.
I also used to donate blood (which is something most of us can do on an ongoing basis) but they don’t have the facilities to store and process donated blood here.
I just wanted to thank you for remembering that health is a provincial AND territorial mandate. Most folks “down south” never think about us territories up here! And we definitely have some unique considerations in the north.

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