Editor's Note

Whether you “heart” Valentine’s Day or not, hearts abound this month as we pledge our love and affection and give away our hearts.We have the opportunity to literally give away our hearts and it’s one that Canadians are missing in droves. Organ donation rates in Canada are low and waiting lists for organs are high. One has to wonder why.

One reason is that we don’t talk about our wishes with those who will be asked about our organ donation upon our death. It’s not enough to sign a form. It’s a conversation that I wish I’d had with my brother who was killed when the truck he was riding in hit a narrow bridge railing and rolled over. He was 31. We were close in age – I was 27 at the time – and close in our relationship. Still we never talked about organ donation consent. Why would that be important?

Turns out it would have been important to those who would have received his organs. My mom and I were so consumed by shock, disbelief and grief in the moments after his body was identified that we told the nurse that we didn’t know his wishes and we could not give permission.

You have no time to think rationally in that circumstance.

A sad tale that I have carried with me since January 23, 1986 and one which has made me a strong proponent of organ donation and the crucial need for that conversation. For parents, that conversation needs to include the unthinkable, the death of your child. Decide between you whether or not you would want to donate your child’s organs. We all hope that we will never experience a tragedy that would warrant such a decision. Still, if the unthinkable were to happen, you don’t want to be blindsided by the consent question and be unable to think it through as was my experience and my mom’s

I’ve shared with you a piece of my heart. Knowing that I’ve encouraged “the conversation” is a balm to that broken bit.


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