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Trillium Gift of Life Network honours Niagara Health System for increasing organ and tissue donations

Posted Apr 16th, 2008

Niagara, ON - Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) is honouring the work of Niagara Health System (NHS) care providers in dramatically increasing the number of organ and tissue donations in Niagara -- in the case of eye donations by more than 300 per cent.

"The Niagara Health System is very pleased with the progress we have made in increasing the number of organ and tissue donations over the last year," says Anne Atkinson, Vice President Patient Services. "We are very mindful of the fact that these donations are the direct result of a family's loss of a loved one, and we are ever grateful to the family members who made the decision to donate their loved one's organs and tissue so others could live."

Last year, as a result of efforts in Niagara, five people received life saving organs, 92 people received the gift of sight through eye donations, and more than 300 people received the benefits from tissue donations, including skin, bone and heart valves.

Of particular note, the number of eye donations steadily climbed from 18 in 2005 to 92 in 2007, an increase of more than 300 per cent.

NHS is working hard to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation. This includes improving the identification by NHS caregivers of all potential donors so their loved ones can be approached to consider the option of donating organs and tissue, particularly in the critical care units.

At a meeting of the NHS Board of Trustees yesterday evening, TGLN President and CEO Frank Markel formally congratulated NHS health providers for achieving the provincial benchmark of a 75 per cent conversion rate. The conversion rate is calculated by the number of the potential organ donors who actually went forward for donation. NHS is one of 12 hospitals out of 21 to reach this benchmark.

"I commend the Niagara Health System for its continued dedication to organ and tissue donation," said Frank Markel, President and CEO of TGLN. "We continue to make incredible progress in organ and tissue donation and the progress we make would not be possible without the cooperation from hospitals like NHS."

Carolyn Bergeron, NHS Health Program Director and Chair of the Organ and Tissue Donation Committee, was also honoured as a Donation champion nominee – one of 25 across the province. The Donation Champion award is in recognition of exemplary leadership and commitment to advancing organ donations.

"Carolyn's leadership and contributions have made a real difference in saving lives," says Atkinson. "She has worked very hard with her team to increase donation rates in Niagara. The NHS is very proud of the entire team's contributions in giving the gift of life."

There are currently 1,665 people on the transplant waiting list in Ontario, 54 of them from Niagara. One donor's generosity can have a tremendous impact on improving the health of others who desperately need transplants. One organ donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of up to 75 others through tissue donation.

In its continuing efforts to raise awareness, the NHS, in conjunction with TGLN, is inviting the Niagara community to participate in a Living Green Ribbon event at the NHS Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls on Wednesday, April 23, 2008.

The Living Green Ribbon event will be held rain or shine in the area adjacent to the Allied Health Building, parking lot off North Street, from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

All members of the public are invited to participate in the Living Green Ribbon formation, and are encouraged to invite their colleagues, friends and neighbours. Parking will be available in the Allied Health lot, and carpooling is encouraged. Green ponchos will be handed out on site to participants.

Niagara Health System