Giving the gift of life through organ donation

This week’s CEO guest blogger is Osler Hospital Donation Physician, Dr. Alexandra McMillan.

This flag flies for every organ donor at Brampton Civic.

If you drive by the hospital and see this flag flying, it means one of our patients has given the gift of life through organ donation. It is a powerful and deeply moving reminder that something good can – and does – come from loss.

As Osler’s Hospital Donation Physician, I’ve seen firsthand the incredible impact of organ and tissue donation for the recipient and donor family, who find solace in knowing their decision saves lives.

You’re probably wondering why I’m sharing this with you today. It’s because April is BeADonor month, an annual awareness campaign led by Trillium Gift of Life (TGLN) to encourage all Ontarians to register their consent to donate. This year’s theme is Let’s be a DONORNation. You’ll see more information on this in the coming days and weeks.

For those of you who know me, you know how passionate I am about organ and tissue donation. In fact, I still wear the TGLN lanyard I was given as a medical trainee more than a decade ago! It is my daily reminder of the selfless generosity of our patients and their families, and the continued need to spread awareness.

While the majority of Canadians support donation, only 32 per cent of Ontarians have formally registered their consent, and there are more than 1,500 people in Ontario currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.

At Osler, we have made it a priority to ensure that every eligible patient and their family is provided the opportunity to make an informed decision about organ and tissue donation, while respecting the patient’s values and wishes.

Simply put, organ donation is an integral part of providing high-quality end-of-life care in Ontario, and at Osler we strive to be leaders in this area.

In 2017, 18 patients at Osler donated their organs saving 49 lives! There were also 53 tissue donors with the potential to help almost 4,000 people! Donated corneas, for example, help restore sight loss caused by eye disease or injury.

Donated skin helps people with severe burns by preventing infections, reducing scarring and pain. And donated bone allows people to walk again. I am incredibly proud of the work Osler has done in this area, but it is not the hospital who is the real hero, it is the selfless generosity of the patient population we serve.

I will always remember the words of one family member, describing how he felt seeing the flag flying for his wife at Brampton Civic. He said: “Every time I drove by I’d kick whoever was in the front seat and say, ‘That’s there for your mother.’ It was a very emotional time, but I was very proud to see that flag flying. You shouldn’t stop that.”

To join the DONORNation, please visit www.beadonor.ca/williamosler and register today.

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