FREDERICTON (GNB) – New Brunswickers are encouraged to observe National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, April 23-29.

“This important week gives us the opportunity to show our support to those waiting for a tissue or organ donation,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “This week the legislature has been lit up in green, which is the official colour of organ and tissue donation, representing the hope that organ donors provide to people in need of a lifesaving transplant, and also to their families.”

In Canada, more than 4,500 people are waiting for an organ transplant. In New Brunswick, there are about 129 people on the wait-list for an organ (kidney, liver and heart), 125 people waiting for corneal transplants, and many others waiting for tendon and bone transplants.

“This week also serves as a reminder to communicate to your family your wishes to be a donor, and to indicate your intention on your Medicare renewal form,” said Boudreau.

“I encourage people to let their families know they would like to donate their organs and tissue,” said Kristen Wheaton, Canadian Transplant Association member and volunteer. “Sharing your wishes with your loved ones in advance can make it easier for your family to decide about organ and tissue donation at the appropriate time. Heart, lung, liver, kidney or pancreas transplants can give patients another chance at life. The problem is there are not nearly enough organs to meet current needs.”

Nearly 330,000 New Brunswickers have made the choice to become a donor. Those wishing to become donors need to 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.

An organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 75 people.

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