April is Be A Donor Month, and the Transplant Advocate Association (TAA) is hoping to promote organ donation and bring awareness through public ceremonies and events throughout the month.
The TAA works closely with the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) and provides support to both transplant recipients and donors, as well as their care partners, families, and friends. The group encompasses a wide geographical region including Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, Peterborough, Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, Hastings & Prince Edward, and Northumberland counties.
According to a release from the organization, TAA members share their personal experiences and offer practical, non-medical advice to those on their transplant journey; things like what to expect before and after surgery, securing accommodations in other cities, clinic visits and exercise tips, sources of funding, etc.
This time of year is a particularly busy time for members, as they set up info booths, submit proclamations, and attend flag-raising ceremonies in locations up and down Highway 401, to celebrate BeADonor month and Green Shirt Day, the organization stated.
TAA is a registered charity which raises funds in the region through memorial and general donations, raffles, volunteering at local Bingos (in partnership with OLG and the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association) and supporting other third-party fundraising activities, such as golf tournaments. While organ transplants are covered by the province, the TAA noted that there are numerous related costs, such as those related to relocation, medications, travel, etc., that families must manage in order to be approved for transplant surgery, which is often performed in larger medical centres like Toronto and Ottawa.
BeADonor month is celebrated annually in an effort to bring awareness to the need for organ and tissue donation in Ontario. The Trillium Gift of Life Network reports that only 35 per cent of eligible Ontarians are registered to be organ donors, yet more than 90 per cent are in favour of organ donation and many mistakenly think they are already registered. In addition, there were 1,300 Ontarians waiting for organ transplants as of December 2022.
“With an ‘opt-in’ system in Ontario, it is imperative that people from our region who wish to donate organs at the end of their lives, register online by visiting beadonor.ca/taa_canada (or in person at any Service Ontario Centre), when you renew your license or health card,” the organization stated. “You must have a valid Ontario Health Card in order to register as a donor.”
Green Shirt Day is recognized on April 7 in honour of Humbolt Broncos hockey player Logan Boulet after he and several of his teammates lost their lives in a bus crash in 2018. Boulet saved the lives of six other people through organ donation because he had mentioned to his parents that he had registered for organ donation, and they respected his wishes. According to the release, Boulet’s story has encouraged more than 150,000 Canadians to register their intent to donate their organs – more than ever before arising from just one event.
A Proclamation has been approved at Kingston City Council and a flag will fly on Friday, Apr. 7 in Confederation Park. TAA members and the general public are invited to meet at the flagpole at 12 p.m. for a photo op at the flag. There will be no public ceremony due to the statutory holiday (Good Friday). Kingston City Hall will be lit up in green that evening.
The TAA shared these other events being held throughout BeADonor Month:
Monday, Apr. 3 — TAA has been invited to co-host an info booth with the Queens Tissue and Organ Donation student committee, to promote BeADonor Month. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Queens University Arts and Recreation Centre.
Tuesday, Apr. 4 — TAA will have an info booth at the Belleville, Quinte Sport and Recreation Centre at 11 a.m. In addition, the Bridge Street bridge, the Belleville sign and the Fire Hall Garden will all feature green lighting from April 7 to 10.
Monday, Apr. 10 — Proclamation reading and flag raising by City officials at City Hall in Quinte West at 11:30 a.m. In addition, the bridge and the Quinte West sign will be lit up in green.
Friday, Apr. 28. — PepsiCo will host an outdoor BBQ, an awareness event and fundraiser for TAA, on location at their Trenton plant (19 Albert St.) at noon. Lunch is $5 per person and will go directly to the Transplant Advocate Association.