Prince Edward Island’s first Intent to Donate Registry will make it easier for Islanders to make their wishes known regarding organ and tissue donation.
Minister of Health and Wellness Robert Henderson said the new registry will have advantages over the previous system where people indicated their intention to donate on their driver’s license or manually on their health card. The new registry will be electronically linked to PEI health card numbers and Islanders will be able to renew their wish to be a donor each time they renew their provincial health card.
“The electronic registry is a secure space where Islanders can make their wishes known regarding their intentions to donate their organs or tissues,” said the minister. “The registry will also make it clear and easy for health care providers to access a patient’s current wishes. I encourage Islanders to make time to talk with their families about this important issue this week, which is Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.”
The red hearts currently found on the driver’s license and government issued voluntary ID will be phased out over the next three years. During the transition period, Islanders will be able to complete the Intent to Donate form at all Access PEI locations when they renew their drivers’ license and government issued IDs. Information from the form is then entered into the electronic registry and will be exclusively tied to an individual’s provincial health card number. Since last October, over 30,000 Islanders have completed the form.
“Having an Intent to Donate Registry is the easiest and best way for Islanders to make sure health care providers know their wishes regarding organ and tissue donation,” says Provincial Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplant Manager Angela Carpenter. “With the electronic registry, this information is always accessible, and health care providers can let families know that the decision has already been made and how they can help fulfill their loved one’s wishes. Islanders should also make sure their family knows and understands their wish to be a donor so it is easier for the family to help with the donation process.”
Previously, families and health care professionals often did not have access to the driver’s license when the opportunity to donate arose. Potential for confusion also occurred if one card indicated the wish to be a donor and the other card did not.
“My son and his wife had the important conversation about their wishes to be organ donors in the weeks before he passed away” said Elaine Bernard, whose son Ronald passed away at the age of 22. His family was able to honour his wishes, helping five different recipients. “I encourage all Islanders to discuss organ and tissue donation with their families. It is easier to have the conversation and make the decision in advance as our family did.”
Over the past ten years there have been four organ donors identified on PEI. Another eight Islanders became donors in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick when they passed away while undergoing various health treatments.
Since 2011, there have been 38 Islanders who have received organ transplants including kidney, liver and pancreas transplants. The number of tissue transplants is unknown.
During National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, several health care facilities across the province will be lit up in green at night, including the hospitals in Souris, Charlottetown, Summerside, O’Leary and Alberton. Health PEI’s corporate office in Charlottetown will also be lit up in green for the week.
For more information about organ and tissue donation or to complete the Intent to Donate form, visitwww.healthpei.ca/organandtissuedonation.
Canadian Blood Services has recommended that all provinces and territories have an Intent to Donate Registry in place to provide the public with a way to make their wishes known.
There is clear evidence to show that families are much more likely to consent to organ or tissue donation if they are aware that loved ones have previously indicated their wishes to donate. It is also recognized that health care providers are more likely to take the necessary steps to enact the organ and tissue recovery process if they are aware of patients’ wishes to be donors.
Every province and territory in Canada either has a registry or is in the process of implementing one.