April 24, 2006

Organ & Tissue Donation Survey & Awareness Week

Manitobans almost unanimously support organ and tissue donation, yet less than half have actually made a decision to donate, according to the first survey focused exclusively on Manitobans and conducted by Probe Research last November.

According to the survey, more than 94 percent of Manitobans approve of organ and tissue donation, but only 47 percent have made the decision to donate. Ten percent have decided against personally making a donation, meaning 43 percent of the provincial population has simply not made a decision about this life saving and life enhancing topic.

"That's a concern for us," said Christopher Snow, Director of Quality Management, Research and Development for Tissue Bank Manitoba. "When so many people support this very worthy cause in principle, we'd like to know why so many of them haven't acted on their beliefs."

Snow said part of the reason might be a lack of understanding about the issue; a theory he said was supported by the survey. Snow noted that while almost all Manitobans know about organ and tissue donation in general, it's a different story when it comes to actually knowing what organs and tissues can actually be transplanted.

"People know about heart, kidney and liver transplants," Snow noted (the survey found that 81, 61 and 43 percent respectively of the population knew about the ability to transplant those organs). "But there's much less knowledge about eye, skin and bone donations (43, 33 and 9 percent respectively).

"And what's really interesting about that, is that bones are the most commonly transplanted of all organs or tissues in Manitoba," adds Kevin Russell, Director of Operations for Tissue Bank Manitoba. Almost 300 bone transplants were performed in the province last year. "If you need a hip replacement, chances are, you've going to need some donated bone," said Russell.

Snow and Russell hope the survey results will prompt more Manitobans to find out about the gift of life through organ and tissue donation. "We want all Manitobans to do three things: (1) make a decision, (2) sign a donor card, and (3) tell your loved ones about your decision."

"And people shouldn't defer making a decision in favour of donation because they think they're too old or because they think some medical condition they have precludes them from being a donor.

"Those are judgments that can and will be made at the right time by trained medical professionals," Russell said.

"Right now, we just want more Manitobans to say 'yes' to organ and tissue donation."

The survey results were being released as part of Organ and Tissue Donation month, which runs from April 23 to 29.

Members of the public, who want more information on organ and tissue donation, can call one of Manitoba's Human Tissue Gift Agencies or visit their websites.

Related Links

Tissue Bank Manitoba

Manitoba Transplant Program

Lions Eye Bank of Manitoba & NW Ontario

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