December 23, 2015 10:03 pm
Updated: December 23, 2015 11:52 pm

Nudging British Columbians to become organ donors

WATCH: This past year was a record-breaking year for BC Transplant. As Aaron McArthur reports, several companies are encouraging new employees to sign up to give the gift of life.


In economics, it’s called a nudge. A simple idea to change people’s behaviour. Trying to get more people to register their intentions when it comes to organ donation has involved large-scale campaigns, personal stories of survival, even flat out guilt-tripping.

Now, some companies are taking a softer approach, trying to nudge their employees in the right direction. Global Securities is one of a few British Columbia businesses that are including organ donor registrations in the package sent to all new hires. A simple idea, but one that has moved the needle.

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According to Guy LaPierre, a trader at the company and a kidney transplant recipient, response has been great. It’s a confidential program, and it’s not mandatory, but people have responded.

“It’s not just employees, clients have mentioned it to me. It really is all about education.”

Most British Columbians support organ donation, yet just a fraction have actually taken the time to register their intentions. Slightly more than 20 per cent have gone online and filled out the questionnaire. As that number climbs slowly, the number of transplants is also climbing.

This year has seen a record number of transplant surgeries performed in B.C. With a week to go in 2015, there have already been 400 this year. A big part of that, according to Ed Ferre, BC Transplant’s Interim Provincial Operations Director, is the change in culture.

“We need to get to a place where organ donation is just a part of what we do when we discuss end of life with our families,” he said.

For people on the wait list, time is quite literally running out. Cody Halfpenny is a 16-year-old Abbotsford boy who has watched his life come to a grinding halt while he waits for a second chance at life. Cody needs a new heart, and until a donor becomes available he can’t go to school, he can’t hang out with his friends, he spends 24 hours a day with his family who are trained to deal with emergencies with the heart pump that keeps him alive.

Cody says, “I’m so frustrated, its been two years and nine months with my LVAD [Left Ventricular Assist Device] and I want to be normal again.”

Signing up is easy. Visit BC Transplant’s online registration site and take the two minutes you need to fill it out. More importantly, have the discussion with your family. Make your end of life intentions well known. A decision today has the potential to save lives.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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