Prescott-Russell has seen a spike in organ donor registration in the past few months.

Hawkesbury was the community with the second-most improved registration rate with 156 new signups between June 30 and September 30. Of the 170 Ontario communities measured by the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN), it ranks 116th with 39 per cent of health card holders registered as organ donors. The rest of the Prescott-Russell sports even higher percentages as shown below:

Those high rates have led to a new collaborative program between the United Counties of Prescott and Russell’s (UCPR) emergency services, the TGLN and Coroner’s office.

New program

The new program has four main steps:

  1. UCPR paramedics are the first in Ontario to be trained to recognize a potential donor if a patient dies. They report all deaths in the last 12 hours to the TGLN and provide medical history, circumstances of the death, next-of-kin information and suitability for donations.
  2. The investigating coroner determines with the TGLN whether a post-mortem examination is required.
  3. With the coroner’s approval, TGLN can then consult the donor registry to see if the person is listed.
  4. If so, it will then contact the family to discuss donation possibilities.

Since the program was launched in April this year, Michel Chrétien, UCPR’s director of emergency services, says there has yet to be a suitable donation but is happy the program is underway.

“It’s a program that’s very hard to get going because of all the protocols and people involved,” he said, “it can be touchy.”

For now the program focuses on tissue donation—cornea, skin, etc.—but Chrétien hopes to grow it into full organ donations.

“We want to promote the program so people sign up,” he said. “We’ll grow from that. It’s a start.”