The Niagara Health System (NHS) was honored Tuesday for achieving an outstanding level of successful organ and tissue donations.
At a board of trustees meeting held at the Ontario Street site of the NHS, Frank Markel, the president and CEO of the Trillium Gift of Life Network, congratulated health providers at the NHS for their efforts.
The NHS recognition was for a 75 per cent "conversion rate" benchmark in which three of every four potential donors at the hospital actually had their organs donated to people in need.
It is one of 12 hospitals or hospital systems in Ontario to reach the benchmark.
"This is a very strong performance," Markel told board members.
He also reminded the board of a stark fact: "One person on the transplant waiting list dies every third day in Ontario."
Trillium Gift of Life Network was created in December 2000 by the Ontario government and acts as the province's central organ and tissue donation agency.
Last year in Niagara, five people got life-saving organ donations, the NHS said in a news release. There were also 92 people who received eye donations and more than 300 benefited from tissue donations, including skin, bone and heart valves.
Of particular note is that eye donations climbed steadily from 18 in 2005 to 92 last year.
Markel told the board it is important for people to realize their organ-donation intentions can easily be made known when getting a driver's licence renewed or when applying for an OHIP photo ID card. "If you tell your family you've done this, that's very helpful," Markel said. "Remember, the conversation (when you've died) is going to be with your family, not with you.
"If your family know your wishes ... most often they let us proceed."
There are currently 1,665 people waiting for a transplant in Ontario, 54 from Niagara, the NHS said in a release. One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donations and enhance the lives of up to 75 others through tissue donations.
At a break during the board meeting, NHS chief of staff Dr. Bill Shragge said his organization is "blessed with having a team of individuals who really have that dedication, compassion, empathy and insight and see (donations) as a priority.
"Therefore, at times of tragedy, they're able to bring a perspective at those most difficult times, which, in turn, yields the kinds of results that we're seeing here."
On April 23, the NHS, along with the Trillium Gift of Life Network, is holding a "Living Green Ribbon" event at the NHS Greater Niagara General site in Niagara Falls.
It will be held, rain or shine, in the area adjacent to the Allied Health Building parking lot off North Street from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
All are invited to the gathering, which will see people join together in support of organ and tissue donation.
Green ponchos will be handed out on site to participants and parking will be available at the Allied Health parking lot, but carpooling is encouraged.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Your generosity can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance another 50 through tissue donation