Considering Organ Donation
By Sherri Yazdani
My first memory of organ donation came about in high school. A student at my small, rural school died tragically in a car accident, and his parents made the decision to donate his organs. The front page of our newspaper read, “Tragic accident leads to gift of life for 8 people.” Somehow, for our small town and for the student’s family, the good that came from this horrible event provided a measure of comfort in the midst of this tremendous grief. I still have that article, thirty years later.
Most of us go through life without having many conversations about organ and tissue donation. The topic can even make some of us squeamish. We hear the odd story in the news, but unless the need for a transplant affects us or our nearest and dearest directly, this is a potentially uncomfortable subject we can generally avoid.
But there is a time and a place where each of us feels the importance of putting our affairs in order. And part of those affairs is giving consideration to organ donation.
“I’m too old to be a donor,” some say. “I’m too ill,” say others. Don’t jump to conclusions, is the response of the Trillium Gift of Life Foundation, the agency responsible for donation and transplants in Ontario. According to the Foundation, every person who would like to be a donor will be evaluated on an individual, case-by-case basis, regardless of age or medical condition, as every organ and tissue which can be donated has different criteria for donation.
Over 90% of Ontarians support organ donation. But far fewer take the step of registering as an organ donor or talking to their families about their intentions. It can be a difficult conversation to have. But it’s one worth having. It takes about two minutes to register your intention at beadonor.ca, and only a few more to discuss it with your family so that they are clear on your intention.
There are countless stories of lives saved or improved through the gift of a transplant. There are stories of donor’s families who found meaning through their grief because of organ donation. It is for each of us to consider whether we would like to be the author of another one.
About the Author: Sherri Yazdani holds a graduate degree in Health Law, Ethics and Policy and worked as a research assistant for Jennifer Chandler, the Bertram Loeb Research Chair in Organ and Tissue Donation. She is a living organ donor, having donated a kidney in 2018, and has made volunteer presentations for the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa.