Alberta organ recipient encourages more residents to sign registry

Organ donation pamphlets are handed out across Canada. Leon Neal/Getty Images

The rate of organ donation in Alberta is increasing and a recipient and his family want to see that trend continue.

The province said more than 250,000 Albertans have signed up to become donors in the two years since the government launched the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry.

The rate of donors has climbed from 9.9 decease donors per million population in 2012 to 13.6 in 2014, but still fall short of other provinces.

“We’ve had tremendous uptake on the registry, but everyone who wants to be a donor also needs to sit down with their loved ones and talk about their decision,” MLA Marie Renaud said.

READ MORE: Alberta takes step towards electronic organ, tissue donation system

Morris Irvine’s 15-year struggle with breathing ended in 2011 when he received a double-lung transplant. He and his grandson Cooper spoke to the media Thursday encouraging more Albertans to sign up for the registry.

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“I am forever grateful to my donor family. I am so proud of all of my family for feeling the same sense of gratitude,” Irvine said.

“Cooper has seen me unable to attend any of his hockey games and horse events and now I can share with him my passion to drive horses and fish; what a grandpa should do.”

“It’s my mission to raise awareness on organ donation because, as one of 23 grandchildren to a double-lung transplant recipient, I can say on behalf of my family, it means everything to us,” Cooper Pirtle said.

READ MORE: Albertans asked to become organ donors when they renew driver’s license

Irvine has started an organization with four other lung transplant recipients to raise awareness and funds for Albertans going through the process.

“We started this organization because I’m living proof organ donation works and I know it needs more awareness,” Irvine said.

“I know it takes a simple conversation, and the easy process to sign your donor card now needs to be known.”

The province said 2,500 Albertans register every week to become organ and tissue donors, with one donor saving up to eight lives.



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