Ottawa Senators’ owner, governor and chairman Eugene Melnyk successfully underwent a liver transplant operation this week.

Prior to his operation, Melnyk was described as being in “critical” condition and in “urgent” need of the donation.  So, I’m really quite happy to hear doctors were able to find a donor and successfully complete the operation so quickly.

Really, I am.

But in spite of this great news, I can’t help but think of the thousands of Canadians who have been waiting much longer than five days for their chance at a life-saving organ transplant.   According to the Trillium Gift of Life Network, in 2013, 246 Canadians died while waiting for an organ donation.  Only one per cent of Canadians who die in hospital donate an organ- that’s about 15 people out of every million, (compare that to donation rates in Spain where it’s 34 per million and the United States where it’s 24 per million).

While these are just a few numbers presented in a very simplified manner, regardless of which way you spin it the outcome is the same: Canada has a shortage of organ donors.

On Thursday May 14, the Ottawa Senators made a public plea on Melnyk’s behalf, urging Canadians to register as donors. Within a matter of days, some 500 people had registered and the lengthly list of potential candidates was narrowed down to 12.  Five days later, on Tuesday May 19, Melnyk underwent the transplant operation and well, the rest is history.

The reasons why this entire situation is so ethically wrong are far too numerous to even list.  According to the Canadian government, there are currently some 4,500 people awaiting organ transplants- some have been waiting years and others only a few months.  But each are sick and deserve a fair shot at a potentially life-saving operation.

Also, let’s not forget Ontario’s health insurance plan requires all eligible patients to be permanent residents of Ontario in addition to spending at least 153 consecutive days in the province.

Eugene Melnyk is a permanent resident of Barbados, (not located in, around or near the province of Ontario).

So, what is it that makes Melnyk so special that he need only wait five days for a healthy liver?  I’d say money, but that might upset a few folks.

I guess he was just really lucky.

But hey, I’m still really happy for him, right?

To register as a donor, please go to beadonor.ca.

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