Study urges Canadians to become organ donors


National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week encourages Canadians to fill out their donor cards. THE PROJECTOR/ Erik Fjeldsted

Canadians suffering from end-stage organ failures are still waiting for transplants, despite an abundance of organs that could be available for them.

A recent study released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows Canada’s health industry is only collecting one in six (17 per cent) of donor-eligible organs.

This week is National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week (NOTDAW), and it reminds Canadians to fill out their donor cards.

Organs may be donated from patients who die in Canadian hospitals as a result of brain damage, and who agreed to donate. According to a supporting study from Canadian Blood Services and Canada’s organ and tissue transplantation community, Canada performs only half as well as the top countries in converting potential donors to actual donors.

The CIHI collected the information in 2012 and found there were 3,088 potential donors across the country, but only 520 of them actually donated.

“I didn’t know it was such a low number,” said RRC student Brandon Latouche. “I would hope they are doing their best to get each and every donor, but that’s still too low.”

The number of people who are clinically suitable for organ donation make up a small fraction of the total deaths, but each potential donor can provide up to eight organs, making deceased organ donors critical in saving lives.

“It’s important to educate the younger generation of this,” said Bella Derksen, a business administration student at RRC. “That would be a long-term fix, but for the short-term, that’s tricky.”

“Make promotions. Put it on a bus somewhere to tell us to go visit a website to sign up. I don’t even know where that is,” said Derksen.

That seems to be the response from a lot of students: they don’t know where or how to sign up to be an organ donor.

“Being able to save eight people, that’s nuts. I feel like that’s important and people should know,” said Sarah Gowan, also a business administration student at RRC.

To register to be an organ and tissue donor, visit or pick up an organ donor card from an insurance company.