Thursday, March 03, 2011

Women’s Day event salutes importance of organ donation

By Jackie Hayes

Waterloo Region, Ontario - Cambridge’s Andrea Clegg received the best Christmas present of her 27-year-old life last December — a new heart.

Another woman, still waiting for a life-saving organ, will tell you what life is like as she waits for that miraculous phone call saying that someone can help her.

Cecily Kowalik of New Hamburg will speak about the emotional but uplifting journey of how her family was able to think of others in their time of sorrow. When her daughter Kyla, 17, died suddenly at home of complications following a knee operation, they agcreed to Kyla being a tissue donor.

These courageous women will be the keynote speakers at this year’s International Women’s Day seminar, to be presented by Waterloo District Women’s Institute on Saturday, March 26, at Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church in New Dundee. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Trillium Gift of Life Network.

The morning program has been arranged by Moira Austin, an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) nurse and chair of the organ and tissue committee at St. Mary’s General Hospital, and Judy Wells, a Grand River Hospital nurse. Both are organ and tissue donation co-ordinators for the Trillium Gift of Life Network in Waterloo-Wellington Region.

There were 1,475 people on the organ transplant wait list in Ontario last week. More than 1,000 of them are in need of a kidney. The average wait for a kidney now is about seven years, Judy said.

“Last year there were 200 organ donors in Ontario, resulting in 667 people receiving transplants. One donor can save up to eight lives,” she said. “Approximately 75 people in Waterloo Region are currently on the transplant waiting list.”

“Do not assume you are too old to donate,” Judy added. “The oldest organ donor in Ontario was 92 years old and the oldest eye donor was 102 years old.”

The criteria for organ donation (heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas) are quite strict in order to ensure a good outcome for recipients, Moira said.

“Donors who meet the criteria to be declared neurologically deceased (brain dead) are maintained on life support. In the past three years, nine organ retrievals at St. Mary’s were able to save 20 lives,” she said.

Most people are eligible to donate tissue (bones, heart valves, connective tissue and cornea) after their deaths. One person can help more than 75 people through the gift of various tissues.

“Staff awareness and education combined with the growing awareness in the community is at the heart of the increase in the number of donors,” Moira added. “St. Mary’s performs corneal transplants and in 2009, 22 such surgeries were performed to restore the gift of sight. Sadly, in Ontario one person dies every three days waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and the costs ($60,000 annually for dialysis) are astounding to keep people on a waiting list.”

In the afternoon, on the lighter side of the Women’s Day program, Iris Powell will introduce you to a collection of clothes designed for the average person.

“You can wear anything, if you wear it with authority,” says Iris. “Your clothes need to fit properly and you need to feel confident in what you wear.”

Participants will also get some decorating inspiration from Linda Guthro of Aubergine Interiors. She will share inspiring ideas for new colour trends, styles and accessories and ideas for decorating on a budget.

The seminar runs from 9:30 a.m. until mid-afternoon. Cost, including lunch, is $35 ($30 if paid by March 5). Registration closes Monday, March 21. For further information, contact Ruth Jones at 519-662-4603

“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 at Trillium Gift of Life Network NEW for Ontario: - 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 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 or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help 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

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