Historic day in organ and tissue donation

    Religious leaders of different faiths stand together

    TORONTO, Feb. 18 /CNW/ -


    Religious leaders in the Greater Toronto Area united today at a prayer
breakfast and affirmed their commitment to work with Trillium Gift of Life
Network (TGLN) to encourage Ontarians to register their consent to organ and
tissue donation.
    This is the first time multiple faith groups have come together on this
topic with the provincial agency responsible for saving and improving the
lives of Ontarians by planning, promoting, co-ordinating and supporting
activities relating to the donation of organs and tissue for transplant.


    "Organ and tissue donation is a life and death issue for thousands of
Ontarians" said Bas Balkissoon, MPP Scarborough--Rouge River and Parliamentary
Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "It's important that
people of all faiths consider the gift of life that may be given when they
register their consent to be a donor."
    "Organ and tissue donation and transplantation is an emblem of the values
that weave us together as a society. Disease recognizes no religious
affiliation, no ethnic background, no ideology. Just as disease grants no
preference nor targets any one group, no one community is responsible for
donation. For donation to work, it must be a shared endeavor," said Frank
Markel, President and CEO of TGLN.
    "It is important for the Catholic community to raise awareness around
organ and tissue donation. To reach out to those sick and suffering with a
gift of one's vital organs is a tangible sign of our faith in action," said
Neil MacCarthy, Director of Public Relations and Communications of the
Archdiocese of Toronto.
    "Muslims must not be afraid of consenting to donate or feel they will not
be rewarded by Allah for doing this act of organ donation. This intention to
save a human life is well founded in the Sharia and the kindness is a true
sadaqa jariya (perpetual charity), the reward of which will manifest in
society and the Day of Judgement," said Imam Habeeb Alli.
    "The value of human life is a cardinal value in Jewish Law. This is a
value, which is expressed through the obligation for self-preservation, but
also in the duty to save the life of another human being. This obligation is a
mitzvah, a commandment, of such a supreme value that it takes precedence over
virtually all other religious duties. The Toronto Board of Rabbis urges that
consent be given for post-mortem organ donation when requested by doctors and
hospitals for use when directly needed for life-saving transplantation
procedures," said Rabbi Aaron Flanzraich.


    TGLN, in partnership with faith leaders has developed and implemented
initiatives to encourage and empower donation in faith communities.
Initiatives include: service in honour of donor families, religious ceremonies
and faith focused pro-donation brochures.
    Most major religions and their denominations support organ and tissue
donation, including: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism,
Judaism, Protestantism, Islam, and the Baptists, Episcopal, Greek Orthodox,
Lutherans, Jehovah's Witnesses, Presbyterians, Seventh Day Adventists,
Mormons, and the Amish.
    One organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance as many
as 75 others.
    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.
    If you've already signed your donor card, please also register your
decision and talk to your family about your decision.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Carrie Hoto, Media Relations Advisor, (416)
619-2299 (office), (416) 735-0099 (cell), choto@giftoflife.on.ca (email)

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