Help save a life – register to be a donor
Gordon MacFarlane and Carleigh MacLeod know the power of an organ or tissue donation – and both are encouraging Islanders to change someone’s life by registering to be a donor.
Health PEI has made it easier for Islanders to become organ and tissue donors through an online intent-to-donate registry (www.makeitzero.ca). For national Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week (April 22-28), a video series featuring Gordon and Carleigh is informing Islanders about the importance of being a donor.
“There is no doubt about it that I was scared – there is a level of helplessness because you are waiting for a gift from somebody else and there wasn’t much you could do to speed that up,” said Gordon, who was first diagnosed with liver disease in 2001. Four years later, he received a liver transplant thanks to a donor. “It saved my life. It gave my kids a father and it gave my wife a husband.”
“The donor changed my life, giving me a gift that no one else could give me,” said 18-year old Carleigh, who received a cornea transplant at just eight weeks old after being born blind in her left eye. “Now, I can do everything, just like everyone else.”
Previously, eligible Islanders had to mail a form to Health PEI for their wishes to be registered. So far, approximately 29,043 Islanders have documented their wishes through the online registry launched last year, of which 78 percent have indicated that they want to be a donor. On average, 400 Islanders register their intent each month. Since April 10, there have been nearly 800 new registrations, mostly by Islanders in their 20s and 30s.
“In recent weeks, we have been reminded that becoming an organ and tissue donor is the greatest gift anyone can give to another,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell. “Across our country we have seen an increase in the number of people signing up as donors. We would like to have every eligible Islander register to be a donor so that we can reduce the number of people waiting for a transplant. Together, we can make it zero.”
Nine out of 10 Canadian provinces and territories including Prince Edward Island now have a web-based intent-to-donate registry. The province’s Intent to Donate Registry will only be linked to the new provincial health card; the red heart currently found on the driver’s license and government issued voluntary ID will be phased out by the end of 2019.
“Organ and tissue donation affects us all. You never know when you or your loved one might need the gift of an organ or tissue which is why it is so important for Islanders to take the time to register their wishes now, while they can,” said Angela Carpenter, provincial organ and tissue donation and transplant manager. “It’s also important for Islanders to make their wishes known to their family and health care team so they are not left making a decision during a very difficult time.”
Several health care facilities across the province will also be lit up in green at night this week as a reminder of Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.
About organ and tissue donation
Many lives can be saved through organ donation (heart, liver, pancreas, small bowel, kidneys, and lungs) after death. Donating tissues such as skin, bone, tendons, corneas, eyes and heart valves can enhance the life of someone who has been burned, or who has vision or mobility problems.
Individuals can also be living donors by donating one of their kidneys or a portion of their liver or lung.
Over the past 10 years, 27 Islanders have donated tissues and approximately 20 have donated an organ.
Nearly 1,100 Islanders were recipients of donated tissues and 100 were organ recipients. There are currently 18 Islanders waiting for an organ transplant.
Gordon MacFarlane’s story: https://youtu.be/xDFxsxGGmsc
Carleigh MacLeod’s story: https://youtu.be/oSoqmyDT6RI