Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Minister Ambrose Launches Organ and Tissue Donor Social Media Campaign

Appeals to Canadians to sign up and give the #GiftOfLife

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - December 4, 2013 - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today launched a new social media campaign to help raise awareness and promote organ and tissue donation in Canada.

"Life is the most precious gift you can give," said Minister Ambrose. "With the holiday season approaching, I want to remind Canadians of the critical need for organ and tissue donations to help the more than 4,500 people waiting for organ donations in Canada today."

To mark the launch of the campaign, Minister Ambrose met with Mrs. Laureen Harper, MP Harold Albrecht and Hélène Campbell at 24 Sussex drive to kick-off the social media campaign, using the hashtag #GiftOfLife.

"Without the generosity and compassion of my donor family, I would not be here to celebrate with my friends and family this year. I urge all of you Canadians to talk about Organ and Tissue Donation with your family and friends. What a blessing for me to have been given the most precious gift, life!" said Hélène Campbell, double-lung transplant recipient and founder of Give2Live.

To assist Canadians in registering as organ and tissue donors, the Government has created a special page on the Healthy Canadians website to raise awareness of the need for Canadians to act on this important issue. The page contains information about the importance of organ and tissue donation in Canada, as well as an interactive map to help Canadians contact their relevant provincial/territorial organizations to sign up.

"During the very difficult time after my wife Betty died, I drew solace from knowing that five people received the gift of life through the organs she donated," said Harold Albrecht, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga.  "I'm happy our family decided as we did; and I'm grateful that because Betty and I had previously discussed organ donation, we knew her wishes."

On December 5, Minister Ambrose will join Mrs. Harper and award-winning singer, songwriter and composer David Foster in touring the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to meet some transplant recipients and talk about the importance of organ and tissue donation.

Minister Ambrose will also attend a gala in Toronto, hosted by the David Foster Foundation. The Foundation works to provide financial support for non-medical expenses of families with children in need of live-saving organ transplants. Mrs. Laureen Harper is honourary chair of this year's gala, which will include world-renowned artists such as Andrea Bocelli and the Juno Award-winning Tenors, among others.

"The launch of this social media campaign will have a huge impact,"
said David Foster, whose Foundation last year also launched Days in Wait website, which refers to the number of days donor recipients have to wait to receive a life-saving organ. 
"Every story is different. While our foundation supports families during the critical time leading up to, during and even following an organ transplant, the wait times for available organs is too long. Let's all use our online communities to spread the word about how easy it is to sign up and potentially save a life."

"Since 2008, Canadian Blood Services, on behalf of federal, provincial and territorial governments, has been providing national leadership for organ and tissue donation and transplantation," says Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services. "Canada now has ground-breaking patient registries such as the Living Donor Paired Exchange and greater system access, accountability and transparency. By working together, Canadian Blood Services, governments, and community partners are making meaningful improvements to meet the needs of Canadian patients, no matter where in the country they live."

"I strongly urge Canadians to register as a donor and to talk to your family about your decision," said Minister Ambrose. "The few minutes it takes could save the lives of up to eight people waiting for an organ transplant and enhance the lives of many more who are in need of a tissue transplant."

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