Organ donor awareness on tap

By Geoff Lee

March 29, 2016 6:00 AM

National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week is April 17-23 with information awareness events planned. Pictured at the Lloydminster Transplant Trot in January is Donna Krilow-Lorenz regional co-ordinator of the Canadian Transplant Association, centre, presenting medals to Leanne Sauer (left), and her sister Elaine Pelletier who teamed up to raise the most money online. Next year's trot will be held on Jan. 28 at the Servus Sports Centre.

Donna Krilow-Lorenz, regional coordinator of the Canadian Transplant Association, is planning to raise the awareness bar once again for organ and tissue donors in Lloydminster.
The opportunity comes with a slate of scheduled information activities during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week April 17-23.
“The need for organs is constant — it’s not going away,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
She said awareness week will get people talking about it with their families and hopefully consenting to donate their organs and tissues.
“It’s an awareness thing,’” she said.
“It’s really just to get people talking about it.”
Surgeons at Edmonton hospitals performed a record 61 lung transplants, 83 liver transplants plus 22 livers from living donors in 2015.
Krilow-Lorenz noted an achievement like that would not be possible without the gift of life from living and deceased donors.
The new awareness campaign follows the success of the Transplant Trot held earlier this year at the Servus Sports Centre.
More than 250 people turned up for the inaugural indoor walk/run fundraiser in Lloydminster.
The event will be held again next year on Jan. 28 with a similar number of donors, recipients and supporters expected to show up.
“The Servus Sports Centre was thrilled — just absolutely thrilled at the event — the number of people it brought in,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
She also noted the last of the income tax receipts were being mailed out to fundraising participants.
To mark the national awareness week, an organ donor banner will be hung across 50 Avenue in downtown Lloydminster to keep the issue top of mind for local residents.
Volunteers from the regional CTA will set up an information booth at the Spring Event Farmers Market   at the Servus Sports Centre on April 16 from noon to 5 p.m.
Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders will proclaim national awareness week at City Hall on April 18 and raise the CTA’s green ribbon flag at 11 a.m.
An information table will also be set up at Wilson Registries (Alberta Motor Vehicles) April 19-21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. along with manual donor registration forms for both provinces.
Alberta currently has one of the lowest organ and tissue donor rates in the country.
In 2014, the Alberta government launched an online organ and tissue donation registry, giving Albertans a way to record their wishes to donate organs and/or tissues after death.
Provincial residents can sign up to be an organ and tissue donor at MyHealth.Alberta.ca. 
Albertans can also document their desire to donate organs and/or tissues at their local registry agent when they renew their driver’s license or other identification.
“They can go it right there plus you get a little red heart printed on your driver’s licence,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
Since the registry launch more than 200,000 Albertans have legally registered to affirm their wishes to donate their organs and/or tissues.
“It’s about 100,000 people a year, but it’s still less than 10 per cent of the actual population that have actually gone and registered online,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
“That’s kind of a slow process.”
Alberta Health Services notes Albertans continue to die on the transplant list because a suitable donor was not made available.
“They have the science to do this to save lives to prolong lives, but we still have to have the organs to do it,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
Saskatchewan residents can complete their consent cards along with their health cards applications or renewals.
“They don’t have a central registry at this point,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
“We are hoping through the CTA that they will have the same system Canada-wide, but it’s deemed to be a provincial issue.”

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