Over the years, Alberta has made tremendous strides towards improving the organ donation process. In 2013, the Legislative Assembly passed the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Amendment Act. This made it easier for Albertans to register for organ and tissue donation, including the ability to sign up online and at Alberta’s registries. Prior to this, the number of organ donors in Alberta had fallen nearly 40 percent over the last decade, with just 9.9 organ donors per million people in 2012. Within weeks of launching the registry, over 4,000 Albertans signed up to become organ donors and in 2015, Albertans were signing up at a rate of 2,500 per week! This means that over 200,000 new donors have signed up since April 2014 and our donor rate has risen to 13.6 per million. Despite this initial success, we still lag behind the rest of Canada when it comes to organ donation, so there is still much work to do to expand the number of donors in Alberta.
My family knows firsthand the impact that the decision to become an organ donor can have on recipients and donor families alike. In 2001, my son Troy was removed from life support after suffering brain damage as the result of a dirt bike accident. Many difficult decisions were made that week, but the decision to donate Troy’s organs and tissues was by far the easiest. We knew in our hearts that’s what would have wanted. As a result, 28 people’s lives were saved or drastically improved and this knowledge continues to provide us with great comfort some 15 years later.
We knew this decision was right for us because we made a point of talking about it as a family so that we would know what to do, should the unthinkable happen. Before making a decision like this, it is important that Albertans not only educate themselves on organ and tissue donation, but also have open discussions with their families to ensure they are aware of their views and wishes on the issue. As a province, the more we talk about it, the more we can learn about the benefits of organ and tissue donation. I have no doubt that this continued public dialogue will help keep encourage more Albertans to become donors.
If you would like to know more about organ and tissue donation, or if you would like to register as an organ donor, please visit: