National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week 2016

Canadians encouraged to register to give life through organ or tissue donation

(OTTAWA) – As part of this year’s National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, Canadian Blood Services, along with organ donation organizations across Canada, is encouraging Canadians to take three important steps: make the decision to donate organs and tissues, register their intent to donate, and have open and frank conversations with loved ones about organ donation.

Approximately 4,500 Canadians are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and many more are waiting for tissue transplants. One organ donor can save up to eight lives, and one tissue donor can enhance the lives of 75 people. The sad reality is that on average, 250 Canadians die each year waiting.

“One-third of all Canadians who need a transplant will never receive one,” says Kimberly Young, Canadian Blood Services’ director of donation and transplantation. “We encourage Canadians to register as organ and tissue donors and have that very important discussion with their families so their wishes are known. Canadians should also consider living organ donation. This is an important choice that over 500 people acted on last year. We can all play such a huge role in turning lives around by making these simple decisions,” she says.

The Woolfsmith family from Calgary are passionate advocates for organ donation, and living proof of the difference donors can make. Several years ago, when three-year-old Mackenzy Woolfsmith passed away due to a severe head injury, her parents donated her organs, and their generous gift saved four lives. The family hopes more Canadians will register their decision to donate and speak to their loved ones about their wishes.

National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week runs from April 18 to 24, and features many opportunities to encourage Canadians to sign up to donate. Global News, Canadian Blood Services, and organ donation and transplantation agencies across the country are hosting a 48-hour TV, online and social media registration drive — called #48in48 — to kick off the week. The goal of this 48-hour blitz is to encourage 48,000 conversations about organ and tissue donation in 48 hours across the country. Canadians are encouraged to register their decision to be an organ and or tissue donor and have conversations with their loved ones about their wishes. will help you register and show your support in your province.

Green is the official colour of organ and tissue donation, symbolizing the hope organ donors provide to patients in need and their families. As part of this week, organ donation advocates across the country will be wearing green ribbon pins. Landmarks from coast to coast are being lit up in the same green to remind Canadians of all the men and women who have died waiting for transplants, and to express gratitude to organ and tissue donors and their families for giving the greatest gift of all, the gift of life.

From April 18 to 22, volunteers from provincial organ donation organizations will be in many Canadian Blood Services blood donor clinics across the country, providing information about organ and tissue donation and a chance to register their decision.

By the numbers

  • Canadians are five to six times more likely to need an organ transplant than to become a deceased organ donor.
  • One-third of Canadians who need a transplant will never receive one.
  • 4,500+: Canadians waiting for a transplant.
  • 250: Average number of Canadians who die each year waiting for a transplant.
  • 2,427: Lifesaving organ transplants performed in Canada in 2014.
  • 3,259: Sight-restoring cornea transplants performed in Canada in 2014.
  • 595: Deceased donors who gave the gift of life in Canada in 2014.
  • 555: Canadians who were living donors in 2014.
  • 90+%: Percentage of Canadians who support organ donation — yet only about 50 per cent have made the decision to be a donor.
  • Two minutes: The time it takes to register your decision on organ donation online at