Organ donation remains an under-supported cause in Ontario.
To help increase awareness about organ and tissue donation, St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is rallying its employees to help make a difference in the lives of thousands of Ontarians.
While more than 85 per cent of Ontarians are in favour of organ donation, less than 25 per cent have registered their consent to donate. That startling statistic has pushed St Joe’s to start an annual organ and tissue donation campaign to help raise the registration rate here in Hamilton.
Norman Pite, 48, is healthier than ever, and he says he owes it all to an organ transplant from his own sister. But the gift of life came with a heavy loss. “When she passed away, the kidneys worked fine, there was nothing wrong with the kidneys, so they were able to take one of the kidneys and give them to me.”
Before falling into an irreversible coma, his sister Barbara made it clear she wanted to be a living donor to help out her baby brother. Pite is honouring his sister’s memory at St Joe’s inaugural donor registration campaign.
St Joseph’s President Dr David Higgins: “I’ve looked after so many people in my career as a physician who have suffered and died because of lack of an organ donation, but I’ve also seen the wonderful benefits that can happen when someone receives a life-saving organ, it changes the patient’s life profoundly.”
In Ontario alone there are nearly 1500 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and every three days someone in the province dies while waiting for one. One single donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and the lives of up to 75 others can be improved through tissue donation. Donors must register, and should discuss their wishes with family members.
Carrie Dyson of the Trillium Gift of Life Network: “Nine times out of ten their families support their wishes, and when there’s no proof of registration that number drops significantly to about 60 percent.”
St Joe’s is hoping the campaign will increase that number so that more people like Pite can go on to live healthy lives.
“I have a better future ahead of me so it’s by far a better way to live.”
Pite’s nephew Mark Shorey: “It was bittersweet, I lost my mother, but her baby brother has his life and you can’t ask for anything more.”
Becoming a donor is a very easy process. It only takes two minutes; all you need is your health card and to be at least 16 years old. Find out more at the Be A Donor website.