Knowledge a barrier to donation

Goderich Signal Star | Steph Smith

The rate of organ donation in Ontario is poor at best, as it is considered to be a taboo topic, despite statistics that show there is a willingness to donate.

“Approximately 90 per cent of the population agrees with, or is in support of, organ and tissue donation, while only 25 per cent have actually filled out the registration form,” said Dr. Stan Spacek, physician champion of the eye donation program at Alexandra Marine and General Hospital (AMGH). “It’s one thing to say you want to donate and another to actually face the reality of doing it. Having the conviction to do it and agreeing with it are also two different things.”

There are two avenues to donation: organ, such as the heart and lungs, and tissue, which includes skin, bone, heart valves and eyes. According to Spacek, the donation of eyes is the most common and least invasive.

“There is little understanding of tissue donation because people often associate it with organ donation,” Spacek said. “While related, they are two very different avenues. Tissues can be donated at pretty much any time, but organs are more difficult and have to be harvested within a certain timeframe.”

Last year, there were approximately 1,100 eye donations made in Ontario, 12 of which were made in Goderich. The wait list for eyes in Ontario is more than 1,000 people in length, and while AMGH can easily perform eye retrievals because it doesn’t require a surgical suite, there has only been one donation made in Goderich so far this year. Continue reading