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

Becoming an organ, tissue and ocular transplant donor is important. 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.

“Many New Brunswickers are waiting to hear that compatible organs or tissue have been found that could not only help to restore their quality of life, but potentially save it,” said Health Minister Benoît Bourque. “Anyone is eligible to register as an organ donor regardless of age or health. It is one of the best ways to celebrate the season of giving because there truly is no better gift than the gift of life.”

In Canada, about 4,500 people are waiting for an organ transplant. In New Brunswick, there are about 156 people on the wait-list for an organ (kidney, liver or heart) and another 114 are waiting for corneal transplants.

“Of the 4,585 people in Canada waiting for an organ transplant, 76 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, please speak to your family so your organ donation wishes are known and honoured.”

Nearly 345,000 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 and Tissue Donation Program is available online.