Everyone has heard the message about the importance of signing up to be an organ donor. But who actually listens?
It turns out that Canadians who are 50 and older are less likely than younger people to be registered organ donors.
A new report released Thursday by the Trillium Gift of Life Network, an Ontario-based non-profit government agency, found that only 39 per cent of registered organ donors in the province are age 50 and over. Yet nearly two-thirds of people on the waiting list for organ donations in Ontario are 50 and over.
The report also found that the older people are, the less likely they are to consent to donating a dying or deceased loved one's organs. According to the figures, the consent rate for donating a loved one's organs is 52 per cent for people age 50 and older, while it's nearly 70 per cent for those younger than 50. When presented with evidence of a loved one's organ donation registration, the vast majority of loved ones consent, regardless of age, the report found.
It's possible the lower organ donation registration rates for individuals age 50 and older could be because of a belief that older organs aren't as desirable. But the Trillium Gift of Life Network notes that this is a misconception and that "you are never too old to be a donor."
The organization says that a single donor can save as many as eight lives, as well as improve the lives of up to 75 others as a result of tissue donation.
Nine million people living in Ontario have not signed up to be organ donors (out of a population nearing 13 million).
The subject of organ donation has received a fair share of attention recently, thanks in major part to Hélène Campbell, a 21-year-old double-lung transplant recipient from Ottawa whose online campaign for improved organ donation registration rates went viral around the world.
Her efforts have been credited with boosting registration rates by the thousands.
In the past week, Campbell tweeted that she was having kidney problems and that the organs weren't functioning properly. Although that led to serious worry of organ failure, the Ottawa Citizen reports that Campbell recently received test results showing the problem was linked to an allergic reaction to one of her medications. That doesn't mean she's out of the woods. Her recovery from her lung transplant and the potential threat of complications and is not over, the Citizen reports.