Lakeridge Health raises organ donation awareness
OSHAWA -- Every three days, someone in Ontario will die waiting for an organ or tissue transplant.
There are currently 1,600 people on a waiting list for life-saving organ and tissue transplants in Ontario. But only 17 per cent of people in the province with health cards are registered as donors. As a result, a lot of people will not receive their transplants in time.
"One of those people die every three days waiting on the transplant list," said Scott Skinner, director of hospital program with the Trillium Gift of Life Network. Staff and physicians at Lakeridge Health kicked off National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week with a flag-raising ceremony in the hospital's courtyard on April 19. "Raising a flag today in the community sends a clear signal that not only the hospital but also the community supports organ and tissue donations," said Mr. Skinner.
Roger Wharmby, a recent kidney transplant recipient, took part in the flag-raising ceremony. After waiting nine years for a transplant, he finally got one 18 months ago. "It was kind of an anti-climax in a lot of ways because I was on the transplant waiting list for nine years. I had known about kidney issues for 30 years prior to the transplant," said Mr. Wharmby.
During the waiting period, he received four calls to get a transplant. Mr. Wharmby was rejected the first two times because he had infections. "Every time the phone rings long distance, you're thinking to yourself this is it," Mr. Wharmby said. He was called a third time, but he wasn't the first in line as recipient. "I was in the hospital but I didn't get the transplant," he said. "It was like you had a ticket to a baseball game, but you don't go in the park."
The fourth call was a charm for Mr. Wharmby because he finally got his long-awaited transplant. "I got the call at 10 p.m. and I was the hospital for 11:30 p.m. It was 8 a.m. the following morning that they wheeled me into surgery." After the transplant, Mr. Wharmby added he got a huge part of his life back. "Before the transplant, I would sleep at least two or three hours every day because I didn't have energy to do anything."
People interested in becoming an organ and tissue donor can visit the Lakeridge Health websitewww.lakeridgehealth.on.ca and click on the Gift of Life button on the home page. From there they will be linked to the Trillium Gift of Life Network's online registration form. They can also access a form by visiting the Gift of Life website at www.giftoflife.on.ca.
"We are working hard with programs like this so people know that we want them to register their intent to donate," Mr. Skinner said. There is no age requirement to donate. Last year, the oldest organ donor in Ontario was 90 years old.