Alberta medical students are calling on the province to renew efforts to increase organ donor rates.
Forty medical students from the University of Alberta and University of Calgary met with MLAs at the Alberta Legislature on Monday to advocate for new strategies to educate the public and raise awareness about the need for organ donations.
READ MORE: Alberta’s organ donor program lags far behind other provinces
Humboldt Bronco Logan Boulet honoured for organ donation at ceremony Thursday
Organ and tissue donations rising but more needed: Alberta government
Alberta takes step towards electronic organ, tissue donation system
In Feb. 2017, the province said 330,000 Albertans had put their names in the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry which launched in April 2014. But there are still 600 Alberta residents waiting for an organ transplants and thousands more waiting for tissue transplants, the government said.
“We have the system in place,” said University of Alberta medical student Kaylin Bechard.
“It’s just a matter of optimizing it to ensure that no potential donors are falling through the cracks and so that Alberta can become a leader in this field.”
According to data from 2017, there were 627 Albertans waiting for an organ transplant in 2017 and 35 people who died while waiting for a transplant.
READ MORE: The ‘Logan Boulet effect’: Humboldt Broncos player’s family feels pride, heartbreak in wake of tragic death
The students want to streamline the donation process, increase public education and boost the number of transplant specialists in the province.
“(In our recommendations) we’re incorporating an increased number of donation physicians who are specialized in this field, and having a team dedicated to (transplants) in every ICU,” said University of Calgary medical student Angela Kim.
The province said organ donors saved 380 lives in 2015 in Alberta, which was an 11 per cent increase from the year before.
READ MORE: Alberta organ recipient encourages more residents to sign registry
The province said 2,500 Albertans register every week to become organ and tissue donors, with one organ donor saving up to eight lives and one tissue donor improving the quality of life for up to 75 people.
Watch below- April 10, 2018: The parents of Logan Boulet, the Lethbridge hockey player killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, said he was always a giver and that made donating his organs easier. Su-Ling Goh reports.
—With files from Su-Ling Goh