Current system isn’t helping to save Canadian lives

With close to 90 per cent of Canadians stating that they would donate their organs to those in need, and less than 20 per cent of Canadians registered as organ donors, David Foster, chairman of the David Foster Foundation (www.davidfosterfoundation.com) and Levi Sampson, one of the founders of the Because I Can Project (www.becauseicanproject.com) are calling on Canadian health authorities to help push for a nationwide opt-out – rather than opt-in – system of organ donor registration.

Currently, all provinces and territories have independent organ donor registration systems, with programs that vary in their set up and execution. For example, British Columbians must visit the BC Organ Transplant website to register their intention as an organ donor, which is a shift from the previous system where they were able to opt-in when renewing their driver’s licenses. Each province has their own system, but no province has an opt-out system. Foster and Sampson believe that is what needs to change.

“When more than four out of five Canadians say they would become organ donors, but one of out four is doing so, something isn’t working,” says Foster. “Imagine if you didn’t have to visit a website or a government access centre to declare your intention to provide someone in need with your organs following your death.”

The two aren’t saying that the opt-in system doesn’t work; they just want a system that is known to work better. As it stands, each of the provincial bodies are working to manage the organ donation process and coordinate with hospitals and medical care providers are at the same time working to promote the need for Canadians to register as donors. In countries such as Spain and Austria, where an opt-out system is in place, the numbers are staggering. Austria has an organ donor registration of more than 99 per cent, where Spain has an organ donor population approaching 35M.

Foster and Sampson also recognize that families do play a part in organ donor registration, and recommend that family members have a conversation with their loved ones so that they are aware of their intentions to become organ donors after death. Physicians are required to request the use of a deceased person’s organs through the next of kin, which can result in the family declining their use.

“As a board member of the David Foster Foundation, I have been fortunate enough to see firsthand how passionate David Foster is about his foundation and the children and families who are supported,” says Sampson. “I couldn’t be happier to have David and the Foundation partner with the “Because I Can Project” to help see an opt-out system passed for organ registry in Canada.”

The David Foster Foundation was established in 1986 and works to support the non-medical expenses of families with children undergoing pediatric organ transplant. Since its inception, it has assisted more than 850 families across the country, helping to support expenses during one of the most difficult times in their lives. The Foundation covers bills for groceries, gas, rent, and even mortgages, as many families are often required to travel to pediatric transplant hospitals in major urban centres away from their homes.

“I’ve spent more than a quarter century supporting families who have children that are waiting for a new heart or a new liver, and I truly believe that if we moved to this opt-out system, we’ll be forever changing lives that may otherwise not have the chance to be lived to their full potential,” says Foster.

For more information, visit www.davidfosterfoundation.com

About the David Foster Foundation

David Foster is a proud Canadian, Recipient of the Order of Canada, Officer of the Order of Canada, 50-time nominee and 16-time Grammy Award winner (including three for Producer of the Year), three time Oscar nominee, Golden Globe winner, seven time Juno Award winner, Emmy award winner and has the distinguished honour to have his star on both the Canadian and Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is the man behind the biggest hits, with more than half a billion records sold.

Foster launched the David Foster Foundation in his hometown of Victoria in 1986. Across Canada, the David Foster Foundation financially supports families for all non-medical expenses while their children are undergoing lifesaving organ transplants. Thanks to its annual fundraising efforts and the generous support of national partners like TELUS, WestJet, and Aird & Berlis LLP families receive support for expenses incurred when travelling away from their homes to be with their child during transplant. The Foundation also promotes organ donor awareness and registration in both Canada and the United States. For more information, visit www.davidfosterfoundation.com.

Media Contacts:

Brian Cant, Tartan Group: 250-592-3838, 250-888-8729 (cell) or brian@tartangroup.ca

Deirdre Campbell, Tartan Group: 250-592-3838, 250-882-9199 (cell) or deirdre@tartangroup.ca