Giving once you’re gone: It's Organ Donation Awareness Week

Have you talked to your loved ones about organ donation?

It's a conversation doctors and past recipients hope more and more Quebecers will have, especially this week during National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.

"You are basically giving life to somebody you don't know," Makar Barsoum told CTV Montreal. "You can be sure that you are going to change the life of a person."

Barsoum received a heart transplant seven years ago, giving him a second life.

According to studies a single donor can save up to eight lives. Last year there were 164 donors in Quebec who made more than 530 transplants possible.

Doctors believe that number could be a lot higher.

"Over 92 per cent of Quebecers are favourable to organ donations but relatively few have actually taken the concrete step of getting onto the registries," said Prosanto Chaudhury, a specialist in transplants at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Chaudhury believes everyone needs to have the talk, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

"Whether you want to or not, it's important your loved ones, your surrogate decision makers know what your wishes are," he said. "At the time it actually occurs, you won't be able to express your opinion anymore."

As for Barsoum, he said it took him time to figure out what his purpose was and what he was supposed to do with the gift of life he received from an unknown donor. In the end he found volunteering in the community as the answer.

But every day he wakes up he is grateful and keeps a letter for his donor's family written to him anonymously through Transplant Quebec.

"The gentleman is always there in my mind," he said. "It's one of the best things a person can give back to his fellow humans."

Nova Scotia recently introduced a bill that would automatically sign residents up to be organ donors.

Quebec has no such plans.

To find out how you can help, visit the Transplant Quebec website.