TORONTO - Canada -- which is lagging behind in organ donation -- needs to look to other countries that are more successful at getting transplants, says James Bredin, a Toronto firefighter whose two children have both had heart transplants.
The need for organ donation in Canada will skyrocket by 152% over the next two decades, a study by the Canadian Blood Services says.
"We need to start doing what other countries do ... organs become property of the state and they don't need permission to take them. Even if we only did that with kidneys. Just think of all the people on dialysis that wait up to 12 years for a transplant," Bredin said.
"Things like that would work, but we need to pass new laws. My children only had to wait two weeks for a transplant, but it doesn't work like that for a lot of people."
Canada's rate of organ and tissue donation has flatlined for the past decade. The national rate (from deceased people) is 14 donors per million, which is less than half that of the best performing countries, such as Spain and the U.S., which has a rate of 32 per million.
In Ontario, there have been more donations over the past five years, said Frank Markel, president of the Trillium Gift of Life Network.
"Ontario has shown that you can increase donations. Last year in Ontario was a record year -- a 50% increase over a decade ago," he said.
Nationally there is a gap and unless we start improving, this gap will only get bigger, said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services.
"Canadians are surprised to hear that the wait lists differ across the country and they expect more equal access to organs no matter where one lives," he said.
The majority of Canadians have either made the decision to donate, or are open to it, but few have taken action to register, according to a poll of 1,500 adults.
A report with recommendations to change the system will be presented to provincial, territorial and federal governments by early next year at the latest, Sher said.
He is meeting in Vancouver with the Canadian Society of Transplantation Friday and with the International Transplant Society over the weekend.
There are more than 4,000 Canadians waiting for organ transplants and every 1O days, one of them dies.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help 75 to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You