Ontario has reached a milestone in organ and tissue registration.
In numbers released Thursday by Trillium Gift of Life Network, the province now has more than 3 million registering consent on the beadonor.ca website.
That brings the provincial total to 26 per cent.
“It’s something to be proud of,” says Ronnie Gavsie, CEO of TGLN, the provincial agency mandated with organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
The total number of registered donors in Ontario today is 3,029,097.
“We are finally seeing evidence of a cultural shift,” Gavsie says.
It’s the significant improvement in the last five years that makes her call it a broadening transformation in the province’s consciousness — registration has increased 57 per cent in that time.
Two years ago, TGLN started reporting individual community rates on the website. No communities had more than a 50 per cent registration rate then. There are now six.
Within the GTA, the region with the lowest rate in Ontario, there were five communities with less than 10 per cent of residents registered. Now there is only one: Concord.
“It’s a dramatic shift,” Gavsie says. “There’s definitely a trajectory that we are seeing now that we didn’t see before.”
“We are not there yet,” she adds. “The goal’s got to be that the majority of Ontarians are registered. We’ve got to be over 50 per cent.”
It’s been proven that registration saves lives. When there is evidence of a loved one’s registered consent, almost all families honour the donor’s decision. Without consent, only 50 per cent of families consent to organ donation.
Between 2009 and today, 1,334 deceased Ontario organ donors have contributed to 5,697 life-saving kidney, liver, lung, heart, pancreas and small bowel transplants.
Just over 7,500 and tissue donors have extended and enhanced thousands of patients’ lives with gifts of corneas that restore sight, heart valves, skin and bone.
In September, TGLN announced a computer glitch that went undetected for 18 months which meant that the profiles of 60,000 new registrants may have been recorded incomplete or inaccurate. Everyone affected was sent a letter, asking them to go to the website and confirm their preferences.
So far 7,300 of those 60,000 have done so, Gavsie says.
At this point, halfway through the fiscal year, officials hope to set a record for donation. “We’re saying donation numbers that are very good this year,” Gavsie says. “We’re trending to have a record year.”
So far in Ontario in 2014, 218 deceased donors and 218 living donors have contributed to 901 lifesaving transplants.
Though there is an average of 1,500 people awaiting life-saving organ transplants at any one time, and someone dies every three days while waiting, this is still good news, Gavsie says.
“We are proud and we think Ontarians should be proud,” she says. “There seems to be a movement afoot and it personifies the generosity of Ontario.”