Recently some of our team attended a conference & a presentation on the subject of organ & tissue donation.
Ed, the presenter, spoke fondly of his 17 year old son Bryn, a Taekwondo Black Belt, a talented musician, an honours student, and a car enthusiast. Bryn & his logical brain could fix just about anything.
Ed went on to tell the audience about the night, about two years ago, when he & his wife were awakened by the doorbell around midnight. Everyone in the house had gone to bed early that evening except Bryn, who was in the garage working on his car. Bryn had apparently decided to go for a test drive before he called it a night. At the door ringing the doorbell were two RCMP officers, there to tell Bryn’s parents that Bryn’s car had struck a horse that had wandered onto the road. It had taken over two hours for Emergency crews to extract him from his car, and he was on his way to hospital.
Bryn’s family soon learned the devastating news that Bryn was brain dead and would not recover. Over the next few days they arranged for family & for Bryn’s many friends to attend to say their goodbyes. They also discussed with hospital staff the possibility of organ & tissue donation, as Bryn had earlier expressed to his family his desire to be a donor.
Although Bryn’s organs were not suitable for donation, his tissue was. The family later learned one of Bryn’s heart valves was used to save the life of a days-old infant, and skin cells were used to treat a young burn victim. And there may be more; tissue can be frozen for later use.
Imagine the anguish this family felt going through this ordeal, and imagine the courage this man had to stand before those in attendance to tell the heart breaking story of his son Bryn. The entire room was quiet; not a sound to be heard except for the soft crying of many in attendance. Ed, however, was sharing Bryn’s story for a reason. While Bryn’s death is a tragedy, his desire to be a donor meant something positive has come from that tragedy. I’m sure we all recognize that this could happen to any of us, but have we all registered to be an organ donor?
Ed also shared with the audience some information about organ donors and the system in Alberta. In some jurisdictions everyone is put on a registry, and individuals have the ability to ‘opt out’, but in Alberta one must ‘opt in’ to be put on the registry; this has resulted in a very low percentage of Alberta citizens that are currently registered. Additionally, in a recent year more than 200 people died while awaiting an organ donation. As well, it is actually more likely that any given individual would be in a position to require an organ or tissue transplant, rather than be a donor.
It’s easy to get on the registry; you simply need to attend an Alberta Registries Office (visit us at our office in Killam, or go to any AB Registries location) and ask to sign up. We encourage you to do so now – let Bryn’s story be the reason you make the effort to register.
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