A local man is highlighting the importance of organ and tissue donation.
April 24 to 28 is National Organ and and Tissue Awareness Week, which holds a special meaning for Scott Ouellette of Drumheller.
"It's almost been nine years since I had my heart transplant. Just about nine years ago yesterday when I was actually in the hospital after I had my heart attack," said Ouellette.
When he awoke after his massive heart attack, Ouellette was told he would need a new heart. He was on an ventricular assisted device (VAD) for 113 days before he was told he was getting a new heart, which came from a girl named Kimberly who had passed away.
"Today, people don't even know this happened to me unless I mention it to them. I have no real visible signs of having someone else's heart and most people that do have someone else's organ, you could never tell unless they told you," he added.
Ouellette stresses the importance of sitting down with family to discuss one's wishes to become a donor since it's a big decision for everyone involved.
"Whether you're thinking about doing it or not, you want to make sure your family adheres to the wishes that you have for yourself if you are unable to make that choice yourself," he stated.
After the conversation with family, potential donors can sign the back of their health card to indicate their wishes or by informing Alberta Regsitries to include donor information on their license.
"You can just donate tissue, you can just donate organs, you can just donate your heart, you can just donate your eyes, it's completely up to you as long as your family knows your wishes," Ouellette explained. "One person can save up to eight lives and improve the lives of hundreds."
National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week is always the last week of April, however it runs for the entire month in the United States. To learn more about organ donation and the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry click here.
(Picture submitted. Ouellette one week after transplant surgery)