Matthew with his mother, Noreen, and father, Rick | Photo from the Woodford family

Organ donation has made it a little easier for a Prince George family to deal with the death of their son Matthew.

His contribution added to the 502 lives saved in 2018 by organ donors, a record breaking year for the province.

“Matthew was a very giving person and had been since he was about 7 or 8. I remember a birthday that he wanted all of his money to go to whales for a couple of years,” said Rick Woodford, who spoke to MyPGNow with his wife Noreen and daughter Suzanne.   

Rick said as a young teenager his son adopted a foster child to send money away to without even telling his parents. As soon as he turned 18, Matthew signed up to be an organ donor.

Last year he passed away at the age of 34 from complications after a fire.

“Losing a child is very difficult, it’s hard to understand. But the fact that Matthew was able to donate four organs has made it so much easier,” said Rick.

He said that through process with BC Transplant and the Vancouver General Hospital ICU department, the Woodfords were shown with the utmost respect.

“We couldn’t have been treated any better.”

The family has since received a letter from the person who is now using Matthew’s lungs.

“There again, it’s hard to express how good it made us feel. They’re carrying on, having a great life because of Matthew’s donation.”

Matthew with his sister Suzanne | Photo from the Woodford family

Matthew Woodford was just one among many donors last year.

“With 122 deceased donors in 2018, we exceeded by one our record pace of 2017. This translates into a deceased donor rate of 24.9 per million people, an increase of 71 percent compared to five years ago,” according to a news release from the Ministry of Health and BC Transplant.

A new kidney transplant milestone was reached last year with 339 transplants. The Ministry of Health said the increase is in part due to the shift towards preemptive kidney transplants before a patient needs dialysis.

As well, there were 50 lung transplants, 77 liver transplants, and 28 heart transplants in 2018 – which tied the heart transplant record set in 2016.

There are currently more than 1.35 million British Columbians who have registered their wishes to be an organ donor. As of January 1, 2019, 669 people are still waiting for an organ transplant in BC.