Middle in relation to other industrialized countries
A report last month from the Canadian Institute for Health Information said that organ donor rates in Canada have not increased very much.
According to Sandra White, co-ordinator for the province's Organ Procurement and Exchange Network, in the past, Canada has been sort of in the middle in relation to other first-world countries.
Whatever the rates are, however, people like White who have concerns about getting the word about organ donation are always spreading the message about the importance of letting friends and loved ones know they've signed their donor cards.
"It's a constant thing, the promotion of organ donation and awareness campaign," she said. "Education is the key because there are a lot of myths around that. And education is the key, because we don't have an official organ donor registry in Newfoundland."
Some provinces do. However, organizations like White's promote it in other ways, such as through drivers' licence and MCP renewal application. The network also gets quite a lot of inquiry and requests for organ donor cards.
The organ procurement and exchange network regularly carries out public and professional presentations; it also presents to the high schools on a regular basis every year.
"We present to many organized groups upon request, like the Kinsmen, Kinettes, the Lions Club, Catholic Women's League, and other organizations that request it.
We do a lot of professional education as well, because as much as the public needs to know, so does the health care profession, because there's a lot of misunderstandings around organ donation," said White.
Organizations like White's will also place extra emphasis on the importance of organ donation through the week of April 22-28. That is recognized as National Organ and Tissue Awareness Week.
"Some people worry," she said. "They wonder, if I have an organ donor card, will every effort be made to save my life, or if they want me as an organ donor. People fear that."
However, the topic of organ donation is never approached until treatment is stopped - no further hope for treatment options.
When death is declared, then organ donation is approached.
"Some people fear that the donation process itself will cause a disfiguration of the body, and that they won't be able to have the type of funeral they want," explained White. "But after organs are removed, there's no visible signs of donation."
There is high demand for all organs on a national level, she said.
The list is long and gets longer, and with the improvement of health care technology, people with organ failure are living longer, White added.
Dialysis is a very effective treatment for end-stage kidney disease, she said, as a reasonably long-term treatment as well. People with kidney failure can be sustained for a long time on dialysis.
If one were to wonder which organ is among the "highest demand," one would have to say "kidney," said White.
"But every organ is in high demand," she added.
The list of organs either needed or can be transplanted is diverse. In addition to the kidney, liver, pancreas, heart, lungs - that are just some of the organs that can be transplanted. There are also tissue transplants, such as corneas, which are in demand.
White said people should let their families know what their wishes are.
There are other reasons why people may be hesitant to donate, besides the fear of organs being harvested before death is declared, or disfigurement of the body.
That can be a question of faith.
"There are a very limited number of groups that would not donate," explained White. "Through Organ Donor Awareness Week, we've contacted a large majority of religions within our area. There are not any at all that don't approve or promote organ donation.
"Organ donation is the ultimate gift of life. Many religious affiliations respect that and believe in it."