It only takes a couple of minutes to save a lot of lives

Recently, I was surprised at how few Ontarians had signed up to be organ donors. I guess I always thought that everyone subscribed to the concept that if you’re dead and don’t need the organs anymore, why not donate them?

Perhaps the process is overly complicated? I went to and clicked on the “register now” button to find out.

I started reading the info on the page: “Your decision to register now could one day save up to eight lives and enhance as many as 75 more.” I felt good about already being an organ donor.

By consenting online, “Your donation decision is recorded in a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care database.” This is a good thing, because what if they couldn’t find my little green and white card? (After all, I have a hard time finding anything in my purse).

Should the unthinkable occur, my family would be notified that I registered as a donor, in order to have them “honour my wishes.” (Hmm, sounds like there is some wiggle room there, and that those who survive me might not have to respect my decision? I’ll have to make my wishes absolutely clear.)

“You need to register even if you signed a donor card.” Well that’s news to me. Here I thought I was a “registered donor” already because of that now tattered green and white card stuffed behind my driver’s licence more than five years ago. This might help explain why the organ donation sign-up number is so low: others must not realize that they also have to go to to make their organ donation official.

“To register, check or update your consent to donate organs and tissue you will need: Your health card number … and your date of birth.” I got out my wallet, then clicked “Start online service.” I noticed a number of informational links below the button on organ donation for those who have questions about the process, but I pressed forward. Then, I was asked if I had the old red and white health card or the new green photo one; I put in my health card number, and my date of birth, and clicked next.

Now the process got a little more difficult, though not technically. I had to answer: “I consent to help save lives by becoming an organ and tissue donor for: transplant only” or “transplant/organ and tissue research.” I am embarrassed to say that I chose the former: I got squeamish at the idea of my body being prodded by medical students. (Yes, I realize I wouldn’t feel it, but it’s still my decision.)

Next I was asked to answer “I wish to donate: Any needed organs and tissue” or: “Any needed organs and tissue EXCEPT for those indicated below.”

I had assumed that I would donate them all, again on the pretence that I wouldn’t need them after death. But then the list jarred me somewhere inside as I read: “Kidneys, eyes, liver, skin, heart, lungs, bone, pancreas.”

Did you stop at “eyes,” “skin” or “bone”? Not being an anatomy major, I don’t think of bone as organ or tissue and didn’t think of eyes or skin as part of the typical donation package. The other organs (while I am very attached to them currently) are not ones I would feel attached to after my death. Perhaps it is because I have never seen them? Perhaps if I looked at my kidney in the mirror every day I would feel differently about donating it too.

Regardless, I then entered my email address to be sent a confirmation email, clicked to the next page that showed me a summary of my choices, and clicked, “I am consenting to be an organ and tissue donor after my death” at the bottom of the screen.

I was done the process in less than two minutes.

With my registration now complete, I posted a link to organ donation on Facebook (with one easy click) and read that I should “take this opportunity to talk to family and friends about [my] choice.” So here it is friends and family … I respectfully request that you don’t mess with my decision to become an organ donor, and that although it makes no sense whatsoever, make “no bones about it” I wouldn’t be “comfortable in my own skin,” if … well … I really couldn’t “see” myself donating … (aarrgh).

Maybe one day in the not-so-distant future, I’ll get over my squeamishness and will log back on and change my preferences to “any needed organs or tissues,” but until then, leave me my skin, eyes, and bones, please and thank you.

Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, take two minutes out of your day at to save up to eight lives.

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