Edmund Lim signs up to become an organ donor with the Kidney Foundation of Canada at the organization’s booth at the Body & Soul Wellness Fair at the Vernon Recreation Complex Saturday. (Matthew Abrey/Black Press)

Organ donors desperately needed

Okanagan numbers pale in comparison to provincial average

Annick Lim could have died waiting for an organ transplant. Just like the 29 people in B.C. who died last year waiting, or the 275 people in Canada.

But she was fortunate, and is alive today to tell her story.

Yet, it’s not her story that the Okanagan resident is so eager to share. It’s the B.C Transplant numbers that she hopes will inspire more people to step up to save lives.

“Did you know that only 1,604 Vernon residents actually (newly) registered through the current registration method in B.C. (in 2016)?” said 42-year-old Lim, who was diagnosed at 18 months and just celebrated her 19th anniversary since her kidney transplant.

The number of new registrants declined even further in 2017, which saw 1,113 people sign up.

Therefore Lim, and her husband, were in Vernon this weekend to help boost the numbers. They volunteered at the Body and Soul Wellness Fair Saturday and Sunday to help people register their decisions for organ donation.

But all Okanagan residents are urged to sign up by registering online (transplant.bc.ca).

The numbers for the rest of the Okanagan are also concerning for recipients like Lim, as all regions are showing a decline except West Kelowna.

But BC Transplant credits the increase in 2016 to the launch of its partnership with ICBC where people could register their decision at driver’s licensing offices.

According to BC Transplant, the number of newly regisered decisions over the past two years are as follows (the numbers do not reflect actual organ donors, just how many people have registered a decision of either yes or no):

Kelowna:

  • 2016 – 4,613
  • 2017 – 4,467

Penticton:

  • 2016 – 1,927
  • 2017 – 1,340

Summerland

  • 2016 – 328
  • 2017 – 198

Osoyoos

  • 2016 – 108
  • 2017 – 74

Okanagan Falls

  • 2016 – 175
  • 2017 – 116

Kaledan

  • 2016 – 89
  • 2017 – 66

Princeton

  • 2016 – 63
  • 2017 – 35

West Kelowna

  • 2016 – 1,039
  • 2017 – 1,063

For Lim, a volunteer with the Canadian Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. and Yukon Branch and and B.C. Transplant, the reward is potentially saving lives.

“It’s been about paying back the Kidney Foundation for how much they have changed my life.”

Lim’s dad, who lives in Quebec, was her donor when she desperately needed a kidney 19 years ago.

“The Kidney Foundation was there in that they paid for his flight, paid for his wife to come,” said Lim.

She is forever grateful and has spent the last 10 years volunteering and has raised $60,000 for the Foundation.

Lim thanks her lucky stars every day that the Kidney Foundation was around to help her.

“It was started in 1964,” she said. “If I was born 10 years before that I would be dead.”

Thursday, March 8 also marks World Kidney Day. March is Kidney Health Month, with a special focus on women, since March 8 is also International Women’s Day.



jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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Diane Barry poses behind her booth at the Body & Sould Wellness Fair at the Vernon Recreation Complex Saturday. (Matthew Abrey/Black Press)

Taylor Kelly (right), of Goodlife Fitness, shows Amanda Engel how her organization can be of benefit during the Body & Soul Wellness Fair Saturday at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Matthew Abrey/Black Press)

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