Organ donation urged

Just because you have “Organ Donor” written on your driver’s licence doesn’t mean your kidneys or liver are going to save a life.

Linda and Keith Lumsden

Linda and Keith Lumsden

Just because you have “Organ Donor” written on your driver’s licence doesn’t mean your kidneys or liver are going to save a life.

Only two to four per cent of organs harvested from bodies are used, as a result of organ damage, incompatibility and a raft of other problems, according to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

“It’s often the family that makes the decision, and it’s a traumatic time for them. If the person hasn’t spoken to their family telling them their wishes, then it often blindsides them. And that’s one of the reasons organs aren’t donated,” said Linda Lumsden, fund development co-ordinator for the Red Deer and district office of the Kidney Foundation.

Lumsden is also the chair of publicity of Red Deer’s Got Talent, a Kidney Foundation talent show fundraiser set to run in February and March. She said she hopes to raise $7,000 for transplant research, community awareness initiatives and to support the needs of people living with kidney disease. Money raised will be spent locally. The co-ordinator of the event is Maggie Hewitt.

Lumsden knows from personal experience how frustrating it is to be on a waiting list for an organ donation. Her husband had kidney disease for several years, but successfully received a transplant from a deceased donor last spring.

“Every time the phone rang we would wonder, ‘Is it us?’ ” she said.

“So we need a lot of organs, we need everybody’s organs,” Lumsden said.

Kidney Foundation statistics show there are more than 4,000 people waiting for organ transplants in Canada, more than 3,000 of whom are awaiting kidneys. In the Northern Alberta region, which includes Red Deer, there are 115 people waiting for kidney donations alone. Red Deer statistics weren’t available, but Lumsden said there are 80 to 90 people on dialysis in the city and that all the satellite dialysis units in surrounding communities are running at full capacity. Many of these people are waiting for kidney transplants, she said.

The next registration date for Red Deer’s Got Talent is Saturday at Parkland Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Auditions start on Feb. 6. Semifinals are Feb. 27 and the finals will be March 7. Registration, information packages and audition dates are available by email rdgottalent@shaw.ca or visit www.labellestudioofmusic.com

mgauk@bprda.wpengine.com