P.E.I. lacks medical team to harvest donated organs
More than 40 per cent of Prince Edward Islanders indicate they are organ donors on their driver's license, but there is no medical team on the Island to harvest donated organs.
The president of the Medical Society of Prince Edward Island says the highly specific medical conditions needed for organs to be viable for donation means very few people will qualify as donors.
But with no organ harvesting team or hospitals where transplants are done, the odds of Islanders ever being organ donors are extremely low.
"I had a patient who was on a decline, a young woman who had respiratory failure, and it was somewhat discouraging to her family that most of her organs could not be donated without making a major transfer to another hospital," says Dr. Rachel Kassner. "In the end they ended up donating skin and eyes, corneas. That was all that was available."
Tissues donation can occur on P.E.I. and teams may travel from Halifax to the Island to harvest skin and corneas, although it doesn't happen very often.
Islanders who suffer severe head injuries in car accidents are often transported to hospitals in Moncton or Halifax, and if they end up on life support and don't recover, they may have organs harvested for donation, but it's a rare event.
Nonetheless, a spokesperson with the Kidney Foundation of Canada says everyone should sign up to be an organ donor, despite the likelihood it will never happen.
"It's valuable for people to show their intent to be an organ donor, even though it's slim," says Crystal Ingersoll. "The odds are not there, but perhaps they will be. Maybe they won't be in Prince Edward Island at the time of death, so it's important to have that acknowledgement that they want to be an organ donor."
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan Viau