Sunday, October 26, 2008

Toronto World's Biggest Walk a success in the rain

Ready for the 5km walk: Group photo in the lobby of Toronto General Hospital (more photos click here)

The World's Biggest Walk for organ donation awareness and transplantation took place at the same time (noon GMT) Saturday, October 25th in cities across five continents. (For more info & links and times & locations around the world: click here)

"I didn't think anyone would show up in this rain!", said walk organizer Amy Holdorf. But more than 50 hardy people showed up at 7:30 AM dressed in rain gear and warm clothes to start walking at Toronto's time of 8 AM sharp.

Participants were from all across the organ transplant spectrum. I spoke with heart recipients, liver recipients, lung recipients and kidney recipients. Some brought their children and a few pushed baby carriages for the entire 5km walk. Many support persons, family and friends of recipients & pre-transplant patients came in spite of the weather. "How could we not show up?", said the wife of a lung transplant recipient.

Organizations with an interest in transplantation were also represented. I spoke with Louis Brill, Nova Scotia Lung Association and Brian Kellow and Kelly Monaghan representing Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario. It was very encouraging to have their support and participation.

As far as I could tell everyone finished the 5km (3 mile) walk that started and finished at Toronto General Hospital. I was amazed at how well the organ recipients did. I wondered how I would do, having only one lung to work with but I was very pleased to finish with absolutely no difficulty. Several other single-lung recipients also made it through.

The walk was to promote organ donation. There's an urgent need for organ donors. Every three days a patient dies while waiting for an organ transplant. Just look at the ratio here in Ontario, Canada of waiting list totals versus transplants performed:

Patients currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant 1740.
Kidney 1234, Liver 317, Lung 66, Heart 55, Kidney/Pancreas 38, Pancreas 23, Small Bowel 5, Heart/Lung 2.

Total transplants performed to date this year: 655.

I have a feeling, all in all, that this inaugural walk is the beginning of an annual event that will draw more participation and attention to organ donation and transplantion as time goes on.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

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