On Monday morning, Tim Archibald attended classes at Brantford Collegiate Institute as usual, blithely unaware that Canada is in desperate need of more organ donors.
On Monday afternoon, the 19-year-old Grade 12 student entered the school's triple gymnasium to the rousing cheers of the entire student body, as he carried the torch - literally - for a national organ donor awareness campaign.
BCI students, including Archibald, learned that almost 4,000 people in Canada are on a waiting list for organ transplants. It's not enough just to sign your donor card, they were told - they should also make it clear to family members that it is their wish, in case of sudden death, to donate their organs.
about saving lives
"You guys have the ability to save up to eight people's lives," program organizer George Marcello told students. "Eight people could be kept alive as a result of your decision."
Marcello, a double-kidney transplant patient (Marcello actually had 2 liver transplants - not kidneys) who founded a group called Step by Step, was in Brantford as part of a countrywide torch relay for organ donor awareness. More than 100 students, including Archibald, have been selected by their schools to carry the torch from community to community, coast to coast.
Archibald said he was honoured to be selected and added that even though he didn't know much about organ donation before, he certainly is aware now that it is an important cause.
"It definitely is, yeah," he said after the ceremony, still holding the torch with pride.
Brant MP Lloyd St. Amand and Brant MPP Dave Levac were also both at the ceremony, which began with a torch-lighting at city hall followed by a procession through the streets to BCI.
Both politicians have tabled private member's bills in support of organ donation. St. Amand's federal bill, if passed, would allow donors to claim Employment Insurance benefits while off work for surgery and recuperation. Levac's provincial bill would put organ donation education on school curriculums.
"Every three days someone dies waiting for an organ," Levac said. "That's not acceptable in a city like Brantford and a province like Ontario."
Marcello said students are the focus of his campaign because he believes they can make a major difference at a grassroots level.
By signing cards and talking the cause up with family and friends, he said, "We can save every single person that's on that waiting list."
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Your generosity can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance another 50 through tissue donation