FREDERICTON (GNB) – New Brunswickers are encouraged to pledge the gift of life and register as an organ and tissue donor this holiday season.

Becoming an organ, tissue and ocular transplant donor is an important commitment. One organ donor can save the life of eight recipients; one tissue donor can enrich the lives of 75 recipients; and an ocular donor can restore sight for two people.

“Registering as an organ donor is one of the best ways to celebrate the season of giving because there truly is no better gift than the gift of life,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “As I gather with the people I treasure in my life this holiday season, I know that someone may be given that same opportunity in the future because I have signalled my intent to become an organ donor. I hope other New Brunswickers will also consider pledging the gift of life to those who so desperately need it.”

In Canada, about 4,500 people are waiting for an organ transplant. In New Brunswick, there are about 126 people on the wait-list for an organ (kidney, liver or heart) and another 125 are waiting for corneal transplants.

“Of the 4,500 people in Canada waiting for an organ transplant, 75 per cent are waiting for a kidney,” said Trina Ralph, executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Atlantic branch. “The Kidney Foundation of Canada asks that you take the time this holiday season to register as an organ donor. More importantly, the foundation asks that you speak to your family and engage them in discussion about your organ donation wishes. Your next of kin will be consulted to make the decision. Let your wishes be known.”

Nearly 320,000 New Brunswickers have already made the choice to become a donor.

The process is simple and confidential, and registering may result in someone waiting for an organ transplant being able to celebrate the holidays with his or her family next year. Those wishing to become donors must indicate their desire by checking the appropriate box on their Medicare Change Request, Replacement and/or Renewal form, available online or by calling 1-888-762-8600.

More information about the New Brunswick Organ Donation Program is available online.