Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Man helps improve public education for organ transplants in Ontario, Canada

Richard Hutton,

One man has made a difference.

After the death of a close family member in March 2010, Joe Menna thought there could be a better way to make sure patients who are possible candidates for organ transplants have the proper information available to them to make informed choices when it comes to their medical care.

“It’s about empowering patients and their families and the public at large,” the Niagara Falls man said of changes he would like to see in the way the Trillium Gift of Life Network can improve data availability and public education when it comes to organ transplants. “How to do that is through public education.”

Joe Menna - Photo: Richard Hutton

In the fall of 2011, Menna put pen to paper and wrote a proposal outlining changes he felt are necessary. Among those changes are things such as available data on gender, blood type, age demographics (for wait list and transplantation), wait times by organ, removals from waiting list (by death or other reason) and life expectancy after transplant.

Menna came up with his list simply by researching what is available in other areas including British Columbia (B.C. Transplant) and south of the border through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Organ Transplant and Procurement Network.

“Ontario lags behind other jurisdictions,” Menna said.

With the help of Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor, Menna was able to set up a meeting with the staff from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as well as representatives from TGLN.

“They agreed to accept some aspects of the proposal,” Menna said.

TGLN has agreed to begin posting data on gender, blood type and age demographics “in the next few weeks” on TGLN’s website.

That’s according to TGLN’s president and chief executive officer Ronnie Gavsie.

“It’s a great example of what can be done,” Gavsie said. “We will continue trying to improve and expand on our reporting. We’ve accelerated or work in certain other areas as well.”

The TGLN will be implementing all of Menna’s ideas in the coming months, Gavsie added.

“We are grateful to him. It’s a step forward.”

Menna, meanwhile, said he would continue working with TGLN on how to improvements can be made to how to best get information out to the public.

“I know this is going to help a lot of people,” Menna said. “They’re going to have all of the information they need.”

According to Gavsie, there are more than 1,500 people awaiting organ transplants of some kind in Ontario.

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