Friday, September 15, 2006

Five Points of Life Ride

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Pictured are team members and guest speakers.
View all the photos

Yesterday was a moving experience for me as I had an opportunity to be part of a media event for the Five Points of Life Ride to promote organ, tissue and blood donation. Trillium Gift of Life Network and Canadian Blood Services both were present to support this wonderful initiative.

The Five Points of Life ride is a cycling event raising awareness of the neeed for five areas of lifesaving donations: Whole Blood, apheresis, bone marrow, cord blood, organs & tissues.

I met with members of the cycling team during their stopover at Toronto General Hospital and was overwhelmed by their dedication and ability to cycle all the way from Ottawa to Miami Beach, some 1500 miles. All were either recipients or donors in one way or another. Perry McGriff, co-founder of the Five Points of Life Ride, really impressed me. He is cycling with the team at age 69. It's got me wondering if there might be an opportunity for me in the future. I'm now motivated to get my bikes out and start training!

Team members will spend six weeks on bicycles, traveling from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to Miami's South Beach in Florida. Each team member, selected through an application process, has a personal story about how donation has impacted his or her life.

The Five Points of Life Ride consists of a small team of 8 cyclists and support crew. Each member is selected for their personal connection to one or more of the five points. The route crosses the country, with stops in communities along the way at activities and events hosted by local donor organizations. Team members meet with donors, patients, community leaders and media. School assemblies, donor drives, formal presentations, hospital visits, proclamations, and media interviews are key components of the ride.

Three support vehicles accompany the team serving as baggage carriers, repair shops, snack bars, and when storms occur, transportation. Visit the Five Points of Life web site for more information and a Map of the cycle

One in two Canadians will need blood for themselves or for close family members in their lifetime. One blood donation has the potential to save or improve up to three lives. Canadian Blood Services must recruit 80,000 new blood donors this year to meet the increasing hospital demand for blood.

Apheresis is a process that removes plasma and platelets — the blood component that controls bleeding- to treat heart surgery patients, and other patients with leukemia, cancer, aplastic anemia and in heart surgery. Platelets have a short shelf life of five days.

bone marrow
Each year, hundreds of Canadians need bone marrow transplants to treat potentially lifethreatening illnesses. Canadian Blood Services manages the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry (UBMDR) in Canada with the exception of Quebec. Fewer than 30 per cent of these patients will be able to find a family member who has compatible bone marrow. In most cases, an unrelated donor is the only available source of bone marrow. Canada and the U.S. have a long history of cooperation.

cord blood
Umbilical cord blood contains a high concentration of stem cells at birth. Saving them offers another transplant option for people, especially children who have been diagnosed with leukemia, anemias and other disorders.

organs & tissues
4,000 Canadians are waiting for an organ transplant, including 1,755 men, women and children who live here in Ontario. Every three days, someone dies waiting for an organ transplant. While public opinion polling indicates four out of five Canadians support organ and tissue donation, consent rates are below 50 per cent.

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