Trillium Gift of Life Network launches awareness campaign urges youth to consider organ donation

    Provocative new campaign kicks-off National Organ and Tissue Donation
    Awareness Week and puts spotlight on critical need for donors

    TORONTO, April 20 /CNW/ - Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) took a
bold step today and launched its first-ever campaign directed at youth to
raise awareness about the critical need for organ and tissue donation in
Ontario. The provocative new campaign, geared at reaching 15 to 24 year-olds
is anchored by a new website,, which asks young people to
consider the critical need for donors and the ultimate act of 'recycling'. The
campaign, which aims to increase donor consent registrations, was developed
with the support of a youth advisory panel and will run for 10 weeks.
    "This is our most important campaign to date," said TGLN President and
CEO Frank Markel. "It's about starting a movement among young people and
creating a culture of organ and tissue donation in this province. "Every three
days someone dies waiting for an organ transplant and it is our belief that
this campaign will let young people know that they have the power to help save
    To develop the campaign, TGLN created and worked with a youth advisory
panel over a period of six months to ensure its messages would speak to the
intended audience. "Today's youth are bombarded with thousands of messages
every day and we knew that to break through, we'd need to listen to them about
what stuck," said Markel. "This campaign is a direct result of what they told
us. It's 100% for youth, by youth."
    The launch of the campaign is part of the Ontario Government's provincial
Organ and Tissue Donation Strategy designed to build awareness about the need
for organ and tissue donation which will be rolled out over the next two years
    "With almost 1700 Ontarians currently on the waiting list for a
transplant, we have a responsibility to build awareness and education -
especially among our youth," said David Caplan, Minister of Health and
Long-Term Care. "Research has shown that organ and tissue donation is simply
not on the radar screen of most youth. This campaign is an important step
towards creating greater awareness and increasing donor rates."
    Running throughout the spring and into the summer, the province-wide
campaign includes gripping transit and online ads, as well as wild postings
and social media activations, which drive youth to the website.
includes inspirational testimonials from youth who have had personal
experiences with organ and tissue donation, raw video footage that features
actual transplants, and a discussion forum. The site gives youth the chance to
'join the movement' and pledge their support for organ and tissue donation.
    Aaron Kucharczuk, a 24 year-old student from the University of Toronto
was one of the panelists who helped inform the campaign. "The problem with the
issue of organ donation is that it hasn't caught our attention like a lot of
other causes that are well known," said Kucharczuk. "We believe this campaign
is going to put the issue on our radar and really get people thinking and
mobilized in a powerful way."
    Besides the youth panel, TGLN consulted with various stakeholders groups
throughout the development of the campaign including the Donor Family Advisory
Council, Provincial Volunteer Committee and health care professionals. "My
father passed away while waiting for a heart transplant," said 18-year-old
Jaynel White, whose father made the decision to donate his organs while on the
waiting list. "Even though he lost his life, there are multiple people who are
alive today thanks to him. This new youth campaign can only help to save more
lives, and hopefully prevent another child from having to say goodbye to a

    Today in Ontario, nearly 1700 patients are on the waiting list.

    Facts about organ and tissue donation in Ontario:

    -  Every 3 days someone dies waiting for an organ transplant.
    -  One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and enhance the lives of up to
       75 others through tissue donation.
    -  Everyone is a potential organ and tissue donor, regardless of his/her
       age. To date, the oldest Canadian organ donor was over 90 years of age
       while the oldest tissue donor was 102 years old.
    -  Even an individual with serious illness can sometimes be an organ or
       tissue donor.
    -  The organs and tissue that can be donated include: heart, liver,
       kidneys, pancreas, lungs, small bowel, corneas, heart valves, bone and
    -  Most major religions support organ and tissue donation.
    -  Organ and tissue donation does not affect funeral services and you can
       still have an open casket.

    About Trillium Gift of Life Network
    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.

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

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview please contact:
Carrie Hoto, Trillium Gift of Life Network, Tel: (416) 619-2299, Cell: (905)
999-2856,; Micha Goddard, Narrative Advocacy Media,
Tel: (416) 922-2211, Cell: (905) 999-2856,

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