Minister: The Importance Of Organ Donation

April 29, 2018 | 4 Comments

“As people in Bermuda pause to celebrate Organ Donation Week, I would like to spend a few moments talking about another gift, namely the gift of life, the gift that keeps on giving. I am referring specifically to the importance of organ donation,” Minister of Health Kim Wilson said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly,  Minister Wilson said, “April marks Organ Donation Week, a time devoted to spreading awareness about the tremendous need for increasing the number of organ, eye and tissue donors.

“The New England Organ Bank, which runs the donor services for Bermuda, are the official Organ Procurement Organization servicing New England and Bermuda. They have a long-standing relationship with Bermuda.

“They know of at least 10 Bermudians waiting for transplants on their lists right now. Organ donation is truly a gift that benefits many people!!

“In fact, one donor can impact eight lives. That’s right, one single organ and tissue donor can save or improve the lives of more than eight people, helping to restore eyesight, damaged tissues or vital functions.

Minister Wilson added, “As we reflect on the need to draw further awareness to the importance of organ donation, I invite everyone to consider the following:

“Discover the facts about organ and tissue donation. Decide about becoming a donor, and register your decision on your driver’s license, fill out and give to your family the organ donation form provided by the Bermuda Donor Association or include organ donation in your advance directives and living will.

“Discuss your decision with the people close to you. The decision to become a donor is a personal and important one. To make the right decision, we all need to have the facts so that our decisions are informed.

“In deciding to become an organ and tissue donor, you are expressing your willingness to save and transform the lives of others through the gift of donation, the gift that keeps on giving.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr Speaker

Today I rise to address a very important matter before Honourable Members of the House of Assembly and members of the public.

The important issue to which I refer, relates to a very special gift.

How many times have we received a birthday gift, an anniversary gift or a Christmas gift, that, well frankly we were not that fond of. Now yes Mr. Speaker it is certainly not the gift that is received which is important, it’s the thought behind the gift.

But I am sure that many of us here in the House and in Bermuda in general have returned gifts received because they were the incorrect size, colour, style, etc.?

Today as people in Bermuda pause to celebrate Organ Donation Week, I would like to spend a few moments talking about another gift, namely the gift of life, the gift that keeps on giving. Mr Speaker I am referring specifically to the importance of organ donation.

April marks Organ Donation Week, a time devoted to spreading awareness about the tremendous need for increasing the number of organ, eye and tissue donors.

Now Mr. Speaker, you may recall that in November last year, I stood before you and this Honourable House discussing the importance of having those important conversations about end of life care. There were some members of the community that felt I had crossed a line when addressing such sensitive topics in Parliament but on the other hand, many persons were pleased to be reminded of the importance of having those sensitive conversations with our family and loved ones.

The issue I wish to address today is one of those such sensitive conversations, yet is far too important to be ignored, namely the importance of discussing with our family and loved ones, our plans and intentions for organ donation.

Having these conversations means ensuring our individual wishes about organ donation are known and respected. This prevents our family and loved ones from having to “guess” and “assume” in a situation where timing is everything and decisions must be made at once.

You can communicate your wishes to your family in several ways: have it written on your driver’s license, fill out and give to your family the organ donation form provided by the Bermuda Donor Association or include organ donation in your advance directives, and living will.

Mr. Speaker, you have heard me speak in this Honourable House on several occasions of the high incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease, the majority of which are wholly preventable and highly costly.

Currently in Bermuda we have approximately 180 persons receiving dialysis treatment to the cost to our health care system of $22,840,000 per year. That translates to the cost of nearly $130,000 per person per year.

Whereas the cost of a kidney transplant is approximately $150,000.00. Once a person has had a kidney transplant, they are no longer required to live a life connected to a dialysis machine 3 times a week, for the rest of their lives, just to survive.

For example a 40 year old male with kidney failure is required to have dialysis. Let’s say that they live until 65 years of age. The system has paid in excess of $3 million dollars at the current rate for a life time of dialysis. Imagine the cost saving to our health care system, not to mention the improved quality of life that patient would have benefited from had he been the receipt of a kidney transplant. What a wonderful gift.

Mr. Speaker, the New England Organ Bank, which runs the donor services for Bermuda, are the official Organ Procurement Organization servicing New England and Bermuda. They have a long-standing relationship with Bermuda.

They know of at least 10 Bermudians waiting for transplants on their lists right now.

Organ donation is truly a gift that benefits many people!!

In fact, One donor can impact eight lives

That’s right, one single organ and tissue donor can save or improve the lives of more than eight people, helping to restore eyesight, damaged tissues or vital functions.

Let me provide some answers to a few common questions people have about organ donation:

Do I have to be in good physical condition to be an organ donor?

Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of age, race or medical history. Donation professionals review medical history to determine if you can donate. With recent advances in transplantation, more people can donate than ever before.

Adults can also make living donations, meaning that living adults can choose to give an organ, like a kidney, or part of an organ, like a liver, to someone in need.

Will my family incur expenses for my organ donation?

Donating does not cost anything

There is no cost to a donor’s family for donating organs and tissues. All costs directly related to the organ donation are paid for by the organ procurement agency. Donor services are not profit organizations and the recipient’s medical insurance will cover the medical costs of receiving the transplant.

Will doctors let me die if they know that I am a donor?

No, the first priority of the health care provider is to save a patient’s life. It is only when the medical team in the ICU have exhausted every option to save the patient’s life and they have declared that a patient brain stem dead that organ donation as an end of life care choice will be discussed with the family.

So similarly Mr Speaker, as I mentioned in this Honourable House last year in November when discussing end of life care, the discussion of organ donation should also form part of that very important discussion.

So in closing, as we reflect on the need to draw further awareness to the importance of organ donation, I invite everyone to consider the following:

Discover the facts about organ and tissue donation.

Decide about becoming a donor, and register your decision on your driver’s license, fill out and give to your family the organ donation form provided by the Bermuda Donor Association or include organ donation in your advance directives and living will.

Discuss your decision with the people close to you.

The decision to become a donor is a personal and important one. To make the right decision, we all need to have the facts so that our decisions are informed.

In deciding to become an organ and tissue donor, you are expressing your willingness to save and transform the lives of others through the gift of donation, the gift that keeps on giving.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (4)

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  1. But Minister Wilson, the donor does not benefit financially. It is the doctors or the involved hospital(s). The donors and their families just do the good will piece. No gain!!
    It is a great gesture, but millions are gianed by the involved doctors or the hospitals.

  2. Um Um Like says:

    Can homosexual men donate organs? It’s just blood they can’t donate, right?

    If gay blood can’t save lives, surely gay organs can’t either.

  3. Reuben says:

    When they change the rules on blood donations I’ll think about it

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