Posted By SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA
Two years after 23-year-old Annik Presseault's death on June 5, 2000, her family received an anonymous thank-you card from a man somewhere in Ontario.
Thanks, it read, for enabling me to walk down the aisle with my daughter at her wedding.
Thanks for the kidneys.
There are others who are thankful Annik agreed to donate her tissue and organs -- a woman in Montreal with her heart, a man in London with her lungs, and hundreds more who wish there were more people like her.
Today in Ontario, nearly 1,700 patients are on the waiting list for an organ transplant.
That is why the Trillium Gift of Life Network, a not-for-profit provincial government agency, has launched a provocative new ad campaign geared at 15 to 24- year-olds.
Running throughout the spring and into the summer, the province-wide campaign includes transit and online ads that drive youth to the website http://www.RecycleMe.org. There, they'll find inspirational testimonials from youth who have had personal experiences with organ and tissue donation, raw video footage that features actual transplants, and a discussion forum.
"Every three days someone dies waiting for an organ transplant and it is our belief that this campaign will let young people know that they have the power to help save lives," said TGLN president Frank Markel.
Annik Presseault knew she had that power, which is why she signed her donor card. And, when she was declared cerebrally dead after complications from a brain aneurysm and doctors at Ottawa General Hospital asked if her organs could be donated, her family honoured her wish.
Timing is crucial. Doctors kept her on a respirator for 14 hours until the weather cleared and a helicopter could arrive from London to pick up her lungs. That's how the family knows where those organs went.
By government regulation, any correspondence between the donor family and recipient must be approved by the recipient. And, like the man with Annik's kidneys, TGLN encourages the recipients to remain anonymous.
Out of respect for the recipients, Annik's family hasn't sought out their identities.
"We don't want them to think, 'You're alive because we lost someone,'" said Annik's brother, Roger Presseault.
But the truth is, they are alive because Annik and her family decided to donate her organs. Through the ad campaign, TGLN wants to find more young people like her.
"The age group we've targeted are very idealistic people, committed," said Markel. "We feel if we can build their support for organ donation not only will we get them and get them for the rest of their lives as supporters, they'll talk to their parents and influence their parents as well."
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
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