A firefighter's new heart will glow on Olympic torch relay

Ten years ago, Dale Shippam got a new heart. It's taken him around the world, and, in the New Year, on a part of an Olympic journey across Canada.

THUNDER BAY, ON, Dec. 30 /CNW/ - The 2010 Olympic slogan is "With Glowing Hearts." For Dale Shippam, the heart that will be glowing as he holds the Olympic torch high, is the donated one that saved his life.

In 1999, Shippam's own heart was ravaged by a virus. But an organ donation through the Trillium Gift of Life Network gave the 58-year-old firefighter a fresh start and propelled him on expeditions around the world, including mountain journeys through Antarctica, Spain and British Columbia.

"I've been in some of the toughest winter terrain on the planet," he says. "I've had my share of adrenalin rushes. But carrying the Olympic flame in a Canadian winter? That will be a blast." Shippam is one of 12,000 Canadians who are taking part in the Olympic Torch's 45,000-kilometre journey across Canada. He will carry the Olympic Torch through Thunder Bay, Ontario on January 3.

"It's perfect that Dale's new heart will ring in the New Year this way," says Frank Markel, President and CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN). "He's seized his fresh start with both hands and celebrated life with gusto. When he passes on that torch, I hope he passes on some of his joy of living and encourages others to consider organ and tissue donation. Someone passed him the chance to live again and look at what he has achieved."

Today, approximately 1,700 people in Ontario are waiting for a life-saving transplant. One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance as many as 75 others.

Adds TGLN's Sandra Petzel, Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinator in Thunder Bay: "New Year's resolutions often speak to people wanting to do good and give back. Well, organ and tissue donation is giving back, big time, and a great resolution to carry forward. Anyone can consent. Register your consent, talk to your family. Your organs will be treated with dignity and respect - so will your choice."

You can register your consent to donate your organs and tissue by visiting your local Service Ontario Health Card Services - OHIP office or outreach centre where you renew your health card. You can also register by downloading and filling out a Gift of Life Consent Form from www.giftoflife.on.ca and mailing it to the address on the form.

Even if you've already signed your donor card, please also register your decision so that this information is accessible at the time of your death and talk to your family about your decision.

For more details on Trillium Gift of Life Network, please visit www.giftoflife.on.ca. You can also call 416-363-4001 or toll free 1-800-263-2833.

Trillium Gift of Life Network is a not-for-profit agency of the Government of Ontario and is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating and supporting organ and tissue donation across Ontario and improving the system so that more lives can be saved.

Please note: The Trillium Gift of Life Network offices will be closed during the holiday season from January 1-3, 2010.

SOURCE Trillium Gift of Life Network

For further information: For further information: Madelyn Herschorn, Trillium Gift of Life Network, (p) (416) 619-2350, (m) (416) 526-8035, (e) mherschorn@giftoflife.on.ca

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