75% Support Organ Donation

Nearly seventy-five per cent of Canadians planned to donate at least one organ upon dying, a new opinion poll suggests. Thirty-nine per cent of respondents in the Leger Marketing survey said they had already taken the necessary measures to make their decision known, while another 34 per cent said they would follow suit. Seventeen per cent said they would not donate any organs while the remaining 10 per cent refused to answer.

Dr. John Gill, a kidney transplant specialist, called the 73 per cent number heartening but said current deceased-donor rates are flat.

“The first thing that strikes me is that the number of people who out and out refuse, 17 per cent, is small,” Dr. Gill said in an interview from Vancouver just ahead of National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, which began on Sunday.

“That's the minority and that is reassuring.”

But Dr. Gill, a transplant physician at St. Paul's Hospital, said it is important for the medical community to make sure future donors inform their family.

The poll of 1,500 Canadians was conducted Feb. 27 - March 2. It is considered accurate within 2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, when the entire sample is taken into account. The margin of error is higher for the smaller samples.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released figures last week on organ procurement and said the rate of donations across the country continued to fall far short of the need for transplants.

In 2003, 124 of every one million Canadians — or almost 4,000 people — were waiting for new organs.

But the rate of donations was a fraction of that, at just 13.5 organs per million in population, said the institute, an independent, not-for-profit organization working to improve the health of Canadians and the health-care system.

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