Wanted: new donors
Organ supply shrinking, says procurement head

by Marty Brown
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 21/97) - Some people think they must sign a donor card or their organs can't be used for transplants. But that's not true, says Sharon Cook, head of Human Organ Procurement and Exchange, or HOPE, at the Stanton Regional Hospital.

"As long as your family knows your intentions, your organs can be harvested," she said.

Donor cards are available, but even a handwritten note in a wallet will do.

But cutbacks in Canadian hospitals have caused a shortage in organs. Actually it's crisis time in Canada, Cook says.

"Everyone's busy. The hospital staff is so stressed, they forget to ask family," Cook said.

Kidneys, hearts, lungs, livers and eyes can be used. Transplants are much cheaper than hospital care, which runs $10,000 to $15,000 a patient for a year on the dialysis machine.

And organs from the NWT can be used. A team from Edmonton will come up immediately and take the organs back.

Medical staff look for matches, first in Alberta and then the rest of Canada and finally the United States.

If a near-death patient arrives at Stanton, the hospital has the technology to keep the organs alive until the transplant team arrives from Edmonton.