Friday, August 12, 2011

Kidney market hopes for broad appeal to potential Vancouver donors

There's no limit to the unique ways motivated people come up with to promote organ and tissue donation. This is a fine example that will hopefully be copied by others.

Five-year wait the norm for recipients


Years ago if you wanted to be an organ donor, placing a decal on your CareCard or driver’s licence would do the trick. Not anymore.

That decal was annulled 15 years ago, but there’s a large misconception that the system still applies, said Heather Johnson, director of programs at the Kidney Foundation of Canada, British Columbia branch.

The foundation states that while 85 per cent of people from B.C. surveyed are in favor of organ donation, only 17 per cent are registered to become donors. “People would say ‘I already have it on my driver’s licence,’” Johnson said. “People like the notion of organ donation, but to actually take action seems to be a problem.”

To become an official organ donor, anyone with a B.C. CareCard can register at the B.C. Transplant website. Donors can also decide which organs they’re willing to provide.

With the highest demand being kidney transplants—the wait time averaging about five years—the kidney foundation has decided to run a community event this weekend to highlight the misconceptions.

And the event is the brainchild of a Vancouver student. Second-year Langara College biology student Scott Haig, 21, entered the kidney foundation offices one day in May and made his pitch.

“Scott walked in our door. He was wonderful as soon as I met him,” said Barbara Valentine, special events coordinator with The Kidney Foundation B.C. branch. “He’s a great guy with fantastic energy who really wants to make a difference.”

He got the job, and as a volunteer spent four months organizing the first Vancouver Kidney Market Fair. Haig proposed that rather than holding a garage sale-like event, as the foundation had done in small communities in other parts of the province, it should incorporate local businesses into the Vancouver event and up the all-ages entertainment appeal.

“I wanted to involve the community,” Haig said. “Our biggest conquest was to really provide a reason to be there. We’ve bolstered food, political leaders, musicians, art.”

Among attractions, Stock Up Cafe will be giving away free samples and Senova restaurant will distribute discount coupons. Debra Sparrow, who designed Team Canada’s 2010 Olympics hockey jersey, will showcase her art. There will also be live music, as well as other booths geared towards children and adults.

The message Haig is trying to send with all this: anyone, any age, can sign up to be an organ donor. (Children under 19 need parents to sign them up.)

Haig, who was inspired after hearing a friend’s story about how a donation for a kidney transplant changed her life at the age of eight, decided to turn the garage sale fundraiser into an all-ages event so the foundation could reach people at an early age.

“That is one of our biggest messages,” Haig said. “We have to encourage children, so they grow up paying attention to how important the kidney foundation organ donation is.”

The event is Aug. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shannon Station at 57th Avenue and West Boulevard.

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – Sign-up today!
to become an organ and tissue donor
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
United States,
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
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

1 comment:

"Guppy" Honaker said...

I am proud to be an organ donor. It is very clear in my living will, and also so indicated on my driver's license.

- David

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