October 23, 2015 8:10 pm
Updated: October 23, 2015 8:48 pm

Okanagan employers encourage organ donation

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KELOWNA – Between 30 and 40 per cent of Canadians waiting for a kidney will die before they get the transplant they need. Those waiting in B.C. have the longest median wait time: 4.8 years.

Those statistics are some of the reasons why the Kidney Foundation of B.C. and Yukon is launching a new campaign. The initiative will encourage companies to make it standard practise to offer employees a chance to register for organ donation.

Transplant recipient Amanda Poch is thrilled with the idea, particularly because it hits so close to home for her.

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“I wouldn’t be here today if somebody didn’t register their decision to be an organ donor,” says Poch.

The 36-year-old spent 11 days in a coma when her liver failed. She woke up to a second chance at life.

“The next thing I remember is my doctor waking me up saying, ‘Hey Amanda’ we gave you a new liver,” she says.

It’s been almost 10 years since Poch’s transplant surgery and now she spends a lot of her time volunteering with the Kidney Foundation.

“We have a five-year goal to raise organ donation registration in British Columbia by 50 per cent,” says Pia Schindler, the Senior Director of the Kidney Foundation of B.C. and Yukon. “It’s a big number.”

On Friday, the Kidney Foundation launched a campaign that Schindler says could change the face of organ donation.

“You give [employees] a voluntary option to decide whether they would like to express that wish of organ donation,” says Derek Sienko, President and CEO of Diversified Rehabilitation Group.

The campaign is the brain child of Sienko. His company is the first in the province to formally sign on and is working with the Kidney Foundation on the initiative. Sienko’s idea is an expansion of a pilot project that the provincial government started about a year and a half ago at Service B.C. Centres.

“When people go to visit their B.C. Service Centres, their staff are actually engaging with people to see if they are actually registered on B.C. Transplant,” says Greg Kyllo, MLA for Shuswap.

Poch believes the initiative will give hope to the approximately 500 people in B.C. waiting for a life-saving transplant.

“We all have an opportunity to be heroes; we all have an opportunity to save somebody’s life. We just need to give people the tools to be able to do so,” says Poch.

The Kidney Foundation hopes to have 100 companies signed up for the organ donation initiative by March, which is Kidney Health month.

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