the Guelph Mercury; Thursday, April 19, 2012
A little peer pressure can’t hurt.
That’s the latest strategy Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Network is using to boost sagging rates of organ donor registration across the province.
Starting today, Ontario residents can compare registration rates in their city – and watch them rise in real time – on beadonor.ca, the website launched by Ontario’s organ and tissue donation agency in support of the Gift of 8 Movement.
The move comes on the heels of Hélène Campbell’s campaign to boost donor registration. Campbell, an Ottawa woman who turned 21 Wednesday, is facing setbacks after her double-lung transplant in early April.
Campbell, whose story has inspired thousands to register and drew support from celebrities Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres, is being treated with steroids to ward off early rejection and with antibiotics for a lung infection. Updates on Campbell’s health are posted on alungstory.ca.
On the Gift of 8 website, any group or person can create a social media campaign, a call to friends and colleagues to register consent for organ and tissue donation that can be shared on Facebook or Twitter.
The website will track registrations via each campaign – and each city.
Only 21 per cent of people in Ontario have registered to be organ donors, with the highest rate of registration in Garson and the lowest in Concord.
“We hope this will cause a huge uptake in registration, just as Hélène Campbell did through her creativity,” said Ronnie Gavsie, CEO of the Gift of Life Network.
“The website opened the door and the communications team has been working for months on how to capitalize on this opportunity to basically get others to share ownership on the responsibility of raising awareness and increasing registration rates.”
Health Minister Deb Matthews – whose goal is to register 1,000 donors – hopes the site will lead organizations, companies, families to start their own challenge.
That goes, too, for her colleagues “on all sides of the house.”
“I think we may have some friendly competition,” she told the Star. “I think this is worth having a competition.”
Some religious and cultural customs have long been considered a contributing factor to low rates, especially in urban centres.
While this campaign this may not address cultural perceptions directly, it certainly can’t hurt, said Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka, chair of Trillium’s board. “We’re doing this because we are hoping it’s going to help a whole bunch, that it’s going to get people’s attitudes changed and that little by little we will whittle away at the resistance that comes from misinformation,” he said.
“The hope is that it will really get people thinking, asking, and within each of these ethnic communities that it will ratchet up the signing on to the registry.”
Gift of 8 comes by its name simply: One organ donor can save up to eight lives with organs, and enhance up to 75 more with tissue grafts.
This campaign is possible only with the existence of beadonor.ca. The website, less than one year old, has simplified the donor registration process. It now takes minutes to register consent to be an organ donor.
With only a health card number, people who have previously registered can check or update their status.
Click here for the online story.