Friday, June 27, 2008

Cash woes hit organ crusade

What I don't understand about this situation is why is Mr. Marcello applying to the Ontario Provincial Government agency for a grant instead of the federal government? His "crusade" has taken him across Canada, not just Ontario. And, as far as Ontario is concerned, where I and hundreds of others, are volunteers for Trillium Gift of Life Network, there is no need for a "grant" because the agency pays all mileage and other expenses as well as providing the materials to support organ donation awareness.

From the Toronto Sun in Canada:

Organizer mortgaged house, then provincial grant didn't come through

A man who is trying to save lives through organ donations may lose his house for the cause.

George Marcello, who has twice received life-saving liver transplants, has dedicated the past 13 years to raising awareness of the need for more Canadians to donate their organs.

In September, he mortgaged his home for more than $50,000 to pay for his sixth and most recent cross-Canada awareness campaign, dubbed SOS 4000 in honour of the more than 4,000 people in Canada currently waiting for an organ transplant.

Marcello is angry that an application for a $100,000 grant he made last year to the Trillium Gift of Life Network -- the publicly funded agency responsible for planning and promoting organ donations in Ontario -- was turned down in March.

"They continue to turn me down and they don't tell me why," he told the Sun.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, who re -ceived the Torch of Life in January during the relay, praised Marcello's hard work.

"They seem to support me in public," he said of the politicians who have spoken about him and the need for more organ donors. "But it turned out to be just a series of photo-ops."

Frank Markel, president and chief executive officer of Trillium Gift of Life Network, said he has a great amount of respect for Marcello and the work he is doing, but his national focus, instead of an Ontario one, may be preventing him from accessing the agency's funds.

"One difference between us is that Mr. Marcello has a national focus. His campaign took him all across the country, whereas our focus is local, to Ontario," Markel said, noting Marcello's application was turned down after "very careful consideration. We do have more requests than we have money."

Currently there are over 4,000 people in Canada waiting for an organ transplant, about half of them in Ontario.

In 2005, McGuinty rejected the idea of "presumed consent," a system used in many European countries that makes everyone an organ donor automatically unless they decided to opt out.

Marcello said Canada has among the lowest organ donation rates in the word. Until that changes, his woes won't keep him from doing what he can to save peoples lives.

"I don't know how I'm going to pay next month's mortgage payments," he said. "I have absolutely nothing in the bank ... any month now my house could go into foreclosure.

"But I wake up every morning knowing someone is going to die because they didn't get an organ in time, and that shouldn't happen," he said.

Markel said he felt sorry for Marcello's financial troubles and the agency would gladly review other funding requests from Marcello, which could be approved provided they followed the agency's criteria.

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