SD&G paramedics will scope for potential tissue donors

(Newswatch Group/File)

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version to delete references to organ donation. This registry and referral program is strictly for tissues, such as bone, skin and heart valves.

SD&G – Starting this fall, paramedics with the Cornwall-SDG Paramedic Service will be looking for potential tissue donors when dealing with the dead on their calls.

“The goal of the (death referral) program is to increase the number of tissue donors in Ontario and provide more families with the opportunity to save and enhance lives,” Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) spokesman Jennifer Allan said in an email to Cornwall Newswatch.

TGLN had the third-highest number of organ donors in a single month in Ontario with 37 donors in April.

“Paramedics are often the first to arrive on the scene, and will be provided training to help prioritize calling the coroner in the event they encounter a recently deceased person. The coroner’s office then contacts Trillium Gift of Life Network if the deceased person has the potential to donate tissue,” Allan said.

Time is the important factor – donors have to be referred within 12 hours in order to make sure tissues can still be harvested.

The agency says one tissue donor can enhance the lives of up to 75 people.

Cornwall city council – the EMS provider in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry – signed a data sharing agreement with the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) for the death referral program during its July 8 meeting.

The system has also been adopted by Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, London and Renfrew, TGLN said.

Paramedics are best to deal with this issue because they are already trained in crisis and grief management and usually notify family of a death, Allan added.

The number of registered donors in Cornwall is four per cent higher than the provincial average (34 per cent), which TGLN calls “exceptional.”

The paramedics will receive training before the tissue referral program starts in the fall.