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A Quick Word on Organ Donation

Posted on October 24, 2016 by Chris Reichert

Last week a friend forwarded a thought-provoking video to me. It is a 90-second clip that features a dog who follows its master everywhere he goes, accompanying him in all his daily errands to the grocery store, coffee shop, and so on. After the elderly man becomes unconscious and paramedics arrive on the scene, you see the dog chasing behind the ambulance while its master is being rushed to the hospital. The dog waits patiently overnight near the entrance to the hospital, but his master doesn’t emerge. The video ends with the dog suddenly raising his head when he sees a smiling young woman leaving the hospital in a wheelchair with her family surrounding her. The commercial is about organ donation and does a great job of demonstrating the importance of making your wishes clear if you want to make your organs available for others when you are gone.

As most people know, in October 2011 Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer after an excruciating wait for a liver transplant in 2009. This past summer, Apple Chief Executive, Tim Cook, announced that Apple's most recent iOS 10 update will give iPhone/iPad users the ability to easily sign up to donate their organs via the company's new Health app. In as little as a few simple finger swipes and taps, US-based users can help to ease the longstanding shortage of organ donors in the United States. 

Given the long-standing shortage of organ donors, we thought this was a great idea. The downside for those of us living North of the 49th Parallel is that the app is only connected to the US National Donor Registry, so is of little value to Canadians in need on the waitlist.

For those of us in Canada who want to make our organs available for donation, the process to sign up is very simple.

Step 1:

Tick the box and sign the back of your Provincial Health Card

Step 2:

Register your wishes online through the Provincial registry.

For our clients in Manitoba: visit www.signupforlife.ca

For our clients in Saskatchewan: call the Saskatchewan Transplant Program at 1-306-655-5054 to register and obtain a red sticker to place on your health card.

For our clients in Alberta: visit Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry

For our clients in British Columbia: visit BC Organ Donor Registry

For our clients in Ontario: visit Trillium Gift of Life  

Step 3:  Talk to your family about your wishes to be an organ donor; tell them exactly what you would like to have happen when you die.

Step 4:  Connect with your lawyer to make sure your wishes are properly documented. Many lawyers will want to include you wishes around organ donation in a health care directive or living will.

By taking these 4 simple steps BEFORE something happens to you, your family, first responders and hospital staff will all know your wishes and you may have an opportunity to save someone else’s life.

Chris