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Green Ribbon Campaign takes over downtown

April 8, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

A local woman is turning downtown Orangeville green through her organ and tissue donation awareness campaign for “BeADonor” month.  

For the past three years now, Amaranth Lions Club member, Michelle White, with the help of her fellow Lions, has displayed green ribbons on lamp posts and trees along Broadway, which is a symbol of support for organ donation.

This year, Orangeville businesses have gotten on board and are displaying the green ribbons in their windows, with some of them including personal messages of support. Dufferin OPP and paramedics are participating as well.

The campaign was started in 2017 by White’s father, a heart transplant recipient who wanted to pay forward his gift of life by encouraging others to register for organ donation.

“He was so grateful for the second chance that he got at life, he made it his business to promote the need for organ donations as much as possible,” said White.

In June of 2018 he passed away and now the campaign continues in his memory, with the hope that the green ribbons and promotion of BeADonor month will lead more people to sign up as organ and tissue donors.

“You don’t think about it until somebody that you know, somebody that you love needs it,” said White. “My family didn’t think about it, really, until my dad was in that situation where they told him your heart is failing and you need a new one or you’re going to die.”

She said it’s interesting to note that while 90 per cent of people say they support organ donation, only 35 per cent have registered consent to do so, and it’s incredibly easy to do online, with a couple of clicks. Visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/organ-and-tissue-donor-registration and enter your health card number as well as birth date to see if you’re registered or sign up.

“Take a minute, take out your health card, take a look at the back of it. If it doesn’t say donor on it, go on the website and register,” White remarked.

Less than half of all eligible Orangeville residents have registered their consent to donate and White is hoping by the end of BeADonor month, those numbers rise.

“I think it would be nice if Orangeville kind of jumped up after this. If we were in the top 10 of most improved communities, that would really mean something, it would mean that a lot of people took note,” said White.

Over 1,600 people are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in Ontario and one person dies every three days while they wait.

In 2020, 654 deceased and living donors gave the gift of life to 1,135 people in Ontario.

“It’s interesting because you’re more likely to need an organ, or tissue replacement… than to actually wind up being the donor,” noted White.

One organ donation has the potential to save up to eight lives and this highlighted when the Humboldt Broncos tragedy took place in 2018.

Defencemen, Logan Boulet told his family he was inspired by his coach Ric Suggit to register for organ donation before he passed and because he shared his wishes, Boulet’s parents offered to donate his organs, saving six lives.

After that, organ donations skyrocketed in Saskatchewan due to what’s called the “Boulet effect” and April 7 was declared Green Shirt Day, promoting registration.

White told the Citizen, consenting to organ donation is an easy way to be a part of the solution for families who are awaiting transplants.

“My Dad, called his donor a hero, and that’s kind of a nice thought, that you can be a hero to somebody,” she noted.

In regards to the Green Ribbon Campaign, White said she’s hoping to continue to make it a bit bigger every year by getting into more and more storefronts and covering a larger area of Orangeville.

“I would love to see on Facebook, somebody say they saw the ribbons and because of that they went to the [BeADonor] website to see what it was all about and that they registered because of the impact of the green ribbons,” said White.

To learn more about the local Green Ribbon Campaign, visit the “Green Ribbons 4 Mike” Facebook page.



         

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