Niva Segatto, Windsor Essex Gift of Life Association chairwoman, holds signs at Devonshire Mall in Windsor encouraging people to sign up as organ and tissue donors on Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Taylor Campbell / Windsor
Are you an organ donor? Statistically speaking, there’s a 70 per cent chance you’re not.Just under one-third of Windsorites (30 per cent) have signed up to donate their organs and tissue, according to the Trillium Gift of Life Network, the Ontario government agency responsible for donation and transplant. That’s even less than the provincial participation rate of 34 per cent.Out of 170 communities in Ontario, Windsor now ranks 157th. That’s two places worse than the city’s ranking from the Trillium Gift of Life Network’s previous quarter. Essex County is doing much better, with a participation rate of 47 per cent and a rank of 58th.“This is a subject that a lot of people do not like to talk about — people don’t want to talk about death,” said Niva Segatto, chairwoman of the Windsor Essex Gift of Life Association. “We get that, because it has a negative, but a negative leads to a positive.”Segatto spent Sunday encouraging people to become donors at a booth in Devonshire Mall. Her husband Dennis received a kidney transplant 41 years ago, she said, so she knows the true value of this gift of life.“We know we need to get out there and make people aware,” Segatto said. “There are certain illnesses out there where the best course of getting back to health is transplantation.”About 15 per cent of Ontarians who think they’re organ donors are not, she said. The organ donor card many people have signed and kept in their wallets was retired in 2012, and driver’s licences no longer indicate the decision. Now, the information is kept on the back of health cards, which say “DONOR” for registered organ and tissue donors.As to why so few sign up, Segatto said some people believe if they sign up and get in an accident, doctors won’t work to save their lives.“Doctors don’t know if you’re signed up or not,” she said. “They are trying to keep you alive.”Related
Brenda Bois, also operating the booth, became an activist after her nine-month-old granddaughter died in hospital in need of a liver donation. Although a match was found, her granddaughter contracted a virus and died before the transplant could occur.“We’ve had someone say, ‘I’m still alive, I don’t want to give a part,’” Bois said. “They don’t understand (the donation) is after they’ve died, when the parts are no good to them.”Once someone registers to be a donor, Segatto said, it’s important to discuss the decision with family members. One in five willing organ donors in Ontario have their wishes quashed by family and their organs die with them.About 260 people in Canada die each year waiting for an organ transplant. One donor can save up to eight lives, and enhance the lives of up to 75 people when tissue donation is taken into account.As of Sunday, 1,652 people are waiting for transplants in Ontario. Of those, 1,170 are waiting for a kidney, which can also be given by a living donor.To become an organ donor, or to check and see if you’re registered, visit email@example.com/wstarcampbell