Source: The Record - Ontario, Canada
CAMBRIDGE — It’s easy. It’s convenient. And it can save lives.
People in Ontario can now register online as an organ and tissue donor on a new website, BeADonor.ca.
“Many lives are going to be saved,” said Cambridge heart transplant recipient Andrea Clegg.
Clegg and two other Waterloo Region residents who received life-saving organ donations are featured in videos posted on the new site.
“It’s a huge milestone,” said Clegg, who shared her story at the official launch in Toronto on Tuesday. “We’re all really excited.”
Online registration replaces the antiquated and inconvenient registration in person at a ServiceOntario office, or by printing and completing a consent form that had to be mailed.
People can also confirm their status as an organ donor on the site. Many people are not aware that carrying a signed donor card in a wallet does not mean a person is registered.
When a person registers consent to donate, the information is stored in a secure Ministry of Health database to be made available to families when needed to ensure a person’s decision is known. Almost all families consent to organ donation when they know of their loved one’s registered consent.
That takes the burden off a family during a difficult time, Clegg said. And it makes it far more likely a person’s wishes will be honoured.
Ontario has a chronic shortage of organ and tissue donations. Every three days, someone in the province dies waiting for a transplant.
About 1,500 people in Ontario are waiting for an organ donation, the vast majority needing a kidney, according to Trillium Gift of Life Network, the provincial government agency overseeing organ and tissue donation.
One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and help another 75 through tissue donation.
Although 80 per cent of Ontario residents believe giving consent to donate before their death is important, less than 20 per cent of those eligible have registered, the network reports.
Kitchener heart and lung transplant recipient Dana Trude is excited to think that the new online registration will turn that around.
“I think it’s good,” Trude said. “Hopefully because it is online, more people will be inclined to sign up.”
Trude volunteered at local events during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week in April and found many people were confused or hesitant when discovering the registration form had to be mailed. Knowing that was a hurdle, Trude did her best to make it easy for people to sign up as a donor.
“I would give them a stamp,” Trude said.
Clegg hopes the new system will make a big difference for her friends, many in Waterloo Region, in dire need of a transplant. Clegg waited for more than a year, an implanted device pumping blood for her failing heart to keep her alive until she got a new one late last year.
“I know what it feels like,” said Clegg, who started the Life Donation Awareness Association of Midwest Ontario, a volunteer group to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation.