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Opt-out donor program needed: ESP resident in need of kidney

Posted: September 24, 2020

 
Opt-out donor program needed:  ESP resident in need of kidney

 
Kyle Schmidt laughed and said Transplant Manitoba had probably had enough of him after a blitz of concerned family, friends and then some bombarded the organization’s phone lines in late August wanting to sign up to become organ donors.

They were doing so because Kyle has a rare kidney disease and is in end-stage renal failure and needs a living kidney donor. Doctors have told him a living donor is his best chance for survival.

"I’ve been so blessed in the last 72 hours, Transplant Manitoba probably hates me because of all the phone calls they got Monday morning,” Kyle, an East St. Paul firefighter, joked.

Kyle needs a blood type O donor. His wife, Lindsey, who is not a match, sent a letter to all their friends, including the fire and paramedic community, asking for help to save her husband’s life. They responded, and Transplant Manitoba now says they have a lengthy list of potential donors.

Kyle, 37, is appreciative, and thanks everyone who signed up to be tested. But he has a new mission – he wants Manitoba to be the second place in North America that is an opt-out province for organ donation, instead of opt in.

"Manitoba has an opt-in donor program where you have to go to signupforlife.ca to become an organ donor,” Kyle said.

"Nova Scotia just became the first place in North America that has an opt-out donor program, in other words, everybody’s assumed to be a donor unless they decide otherwise, they have to manually say, ‘I don’t want to do it’, and that’s fine, you’re allowed to do it, but we need to change the system.”

As a firefighter/paramedic for 19 years, he’s had a front row seat to the countless lives lost on the highway, and the lost organs that could have saved others.

"There’s people killed on the highway everyday and all their organs are going to waste, we could save so many lives if we just switched this,” he said.

"Everybody should sign up to be an organ donor but more importantly I’m going to start exploring political avenues to lobby the Manitoba government to change the program, we need to be opting out of organ donation, not opting in.”


Picture:  ESP Firefighter Kyle Schmidt


 

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