You are 5 times more likely to need an organ transplant than to give an organ.

Would you accept a life saving organ if you needed one?

In Ontario, there are currently 1,480 people waiting for a life-saving transplant.

32

Waiting for a

HEART

36

Waiting for a

KIDNEY/PANCREAS

10

Waiting for a

PANCREAS

0

Waiting for a

HEART/LUNG

266

Waiting for a

LIVER

4

Waiting for a

SMALL BOWEL

1,037

Waiting for a

KIDNEY

82

Waiting for

LUNGS

13

Waiting for 

OTHER

Source: Trillium Gift of Life Network - As of April 3, 2022

A Little Closer to Home - Feature Local Story
Roger & Annik
Donor Family

Dear Reader,

Andy Warhol said it best: “The idea is not to live forever... But maybe to help another live a little longer...” This is the real purpose of organ and tissue transplants.

My name is Roger R. Presseault, I am from a donor family and have been a strong advocate for organ and tissue donations and transplants since 2003. On June 19, 2000, my sister Annik, passed away from a brain aneurysm – she was 23 and a single mother of a 5 year-old daughter. Annik’s liver, kidneys, pancreas and double lungs were harvested in an effort to provide a second chance at life for individuals on the never ending waiting list.

On April 23, 2001, I, my sisters and my wife, attended Rideau Hall for the launch of the National Organ Donor Awareness Week with Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson as the Patron. Following the official ceremony, I had the distinct privilege of having a conversation with Her Excellency and discussing my sister’s gift, along with my involvement as an advocate. She commended me and encouraged me to continue to pursue this advocacy as it was a worthwhile cause. She also took the time to express her gratitude for Annik’s decision to be a donor.

On November 13, 2001, the Honourable Gilbert Parent, Ambassador for the Environment and the Honourable Herb Gray, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, presented my parents with the Gift of Life Medal of Appreciation during the Organ and Tissue Donor Recognition Reception in Ottawa, in recognition of Annik’s gift.

 

Since joining the TGLN as a volunteer in 2003, I have had the privilege of being a voice for those who no longer could stand up and be heard. My first experience was in on June 5, 2004 as guest speaker during the Celebration of Life at St-Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. Over 250 guests attended that evening and this solemn experience reinforced my commitment to join the movement as an activist conveying the message to whomever would care to listen.

Since that day, I have been a featured guest on numerous local and national television programs and radio talk shows. I provided hundreds of interviews to local and regional newspapers and Annik’s story was featured in the Canadian Health and Lifestyle magazine’s 2015 spring issue. To this day, I have taken part in over 350 speaking engagements at all government levels, local organizations, schools, churches and hospitals.

One of the most difficult decision when you lose a loved-one is to agree to the harvesting of organs to allow others a second chance at life. For many, the gift of organs and tissues represents the only hope to benefit of a better life. Tragically, though, there is not enough organs and tissues available to meet the demand, leaving hundreds of people on waiting lists for an organ, who will die because there is no heart, lung, kidney or liver available for them.

It took me 17 years to find out that the liver recipient had a second transplant in 2014, meaning that Annik’s gift of life provided him/her 14 additional years to enjoy life with his/her loved ones. In 2016, I reached out to TGLN with anonymously addressed letters to the recipients and received one response from a grateful recipient of Annik’s kidney and pancreas.

 

As an advocate and volunteer, I believe wholeheartedly in the “Be a Donor Program” and in miracles it brings to recipients and their families. I cannot stress how much my family and I have become more knowledgeable and appreciative of the gift of life. Annik’s passing made us truly realize that it is imperative that we, be it from a donor or recipient’s perspective, vehicle this message as often as possible and educate the public at large on the miracles brought about by organ and tissue donations. We owe it to future generations and loved ones to augment significantly the consent rate by motivating individuals and families to consider and share their wishes about organ and tissue donations.

A few years ago, I stepped back and reflected on what really makes a person important, and came up with the following. There are those people who live in the spotlight, for whom we erect statues, name streets, or garner them with trophies and awards. More often, than never, they go about their lives in selfish pursuits, casting aside the essence and meaning of these gestures – they have this sense of entitlement.

Then there are the Anniks of this world, who make a marked difference but for whom no monuments are erected, no streets named, no parades thrown or no special tributes written. Yet, even in death, they are the unsung heroes and their rewards lie in the fact that others are given a second chance at life.

Every three days someone dies in Ontario because the life-saving organ transplant they need is not available. Research has shown that 90% of Ontarians support organ donation, and yet just over 30% have registered their consent to be a donor. This is astonishing considering the hard and tireless work advocates and volunteers such as myself invest in conveying this message year-round, especially for those individuals in our province waiting for organ transplants and the thousands more waiting for tissue transplants.

We still have a lot of work to do in making people aware that they can help to create life out of personal tragedy. That is something very hard for us to think about, because there is a lot of emotional and physical turmoil happening at the time. However, it is a way of helping to give life. Moreover, giving life under any circumstances in our world is an important and wonderful thing to do.

I urge you to speak to your friends, neighbours, co-workers, family members and encourage them to log into the beadonor.ca site and register. It takes 2 minutes and it means that we are creating hope for those who, once we leave this life, will benefit at a second chance at life.

Roger Presseault

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