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<July 2020>
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Putting a Face on Organ and Tissue Donation in Our Communities
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Putting a Face on Organ and Tissue Donation in Our Communities

July 9, 2019

Registered Nurse Claudette Begg knows the importance of organ and tissue donation. Over 15 years ago, she received the gift of sight with a corneal transplant.

Claudette had suffered from keratoconus since her early twenties, a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. This cone shape deflects light as it enters the eye on its way to the light-sensitive retina, causing distorted vision. By age 25 Claudette could no longer see with glasses.

“I had to switch to hard lenses and was required to wear them at all times,” says Claudette. “These lenses would fall out easily due to the shape of my cornea and often I had corneal abrasions. Closer to my transplant I was even wearing two contacts in each eye, one hard and one soft. I was having difficulty at work and I kept losing my lenses.”

That all changed for Claudette after her transplant.

“Now every morning I wake up and can simply put on a pair of glasses to see. I thank my donor for their gift of sight.”

In an effort to increase awareness about the value of organ and tissue donor registration, members and friends of the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) have created a poster campaign that will be unveiled across the Alliance and on social media starting July 9, 2019.

“Organ and tissue donation is a vitally important part of medical care. In Ontario, there are over 1,600 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant,” says Dr. Tyler Rouse, Hospital Donation Physician and Co-Chair of HPHA's Organ & Tissue Donation Committee. “A single donor can save up to eight lives, and can enhance the lives of up to 75 or more people through the gift of tissue. While those numbers are staggering, we wanted to show how organ and tissue donation affects real people in our community. We are so grateful to the people who have shared their stories through this campaign, and we hope it will highlight how very real the impact of donation can be to our friends, families and colleagues.”

Participants in the poster campaign, in addition to Claudette, include; Jason Hammond, Medical Laboratory Assistant and a kidney transplant recipient; Chantale Hammond, Patient Partner and a liver transplant recipient; Rena Spevack, Board Member, Patient Partner and a living donor; Ryan Morrison, heart transplant recipient and Cecily Kowalik, advocate.

To register your consent to donate visit www.beadonor.ca and speak to your family about your wishes.

Fast Facts about Organ & Tissue Donation

  • The Stratford General Hospital is a designated hospital for organ and tissue donation within the Trillium Gift of Life Network.
  • In the 2018/19 fiscal year two organ donors from HPHA have saved five lives.
  • In the 2018/19 fiscal year, four multi-tissue donors from HPHA enhanced many lives along with 16 eye donors giving the gift of sight to up to 32 people.
  • As of April 1, 2019, three eye donors from HPHA have given sight to up to six people.
  • St. Marys leads HPHA communities with a 53% donor registration rate, meaning that out of 8,289 health card holders, 4,426 are registered donors. This ranks St. Marys 16th in all of Ontario. Stratford is ranked 34th with a 50% donor registration rate, Southern Bruce and Huron Counties at 99th with a 43% donor registration rate and Perth County at 107th with a 42% donor registration rate.
  • Age does not disqualify someone from becoming an organ or tissue donor. Current or past medical history does not prevent anyone from registering to be a donor.