Monday October 30, 2006
Two sisters fought back tears at Queen's Park Monday as they pleaded for stronger organ donation laws, which could help save their mother's life.
Sherry and Sarit Kind called on the Ontario government to introduce so-called "presumed consent," which forces people to opt out of organ donation rather than the current system of only using organs from individuals who have signed donor cards.
Their mother, Suzi Kind, is in critical condition in hospital, waiting for her second liver transplant after contracting hepatitis C from tainted blood 15 years ago. She waited five years for her first liver and is now waiting in a Toronto hospital for another one after suffering major health problems.
"One person can save eight people's lives," said 26-year-old Sherry Kind. "We have to do something about it. We have to help."
Suzi's older sister Sarit, 28, feels that despite a recent increase in donor rates the presumed consent system, which the NDP's Peter Kormos introduced in a private member's bill, would boost rates even further.
"I'm sure the majority of the population would want to give this second chance at life," Sarit Kind pleaded. "They want to be heroes. Why take your organs to heaven? Heaven knows we need them here."
Kormos feels the issue is one of political will.
"There is some squeamishness about it. I, for the life of me, can't understand why people are squeamish about saving the lives of mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, children and parents," he said.
A fellow liver transplant recipient, George Marcello, is walking from Toronto to Ottawa to raise awareness about organ donation and help the Kind family before it's too late to save Suzi.
"It's about time we tested it here," Marcello said of presumed consent, which has seen a 94 per cent success rate in countries where it's been introduced, including Spain. "The results of using this kind of system in any country have always shown a dramatic improvement in the rate of donation."
But not everyone is as enthusiastic about the idea. Mark Vimr of Trillium Gift of Life Network, which oversees the province's organ donations, believes the system isn't needed in Ontario yet.
"We have looked at this issue very closely and carefully," Vimr said.
"We did not feel we were prepared to support implementing a presumed consent approach in Ontario."
Vimr added that a survey found people had mixed feelings about the presumed consent policy.
Kind is one of 1,700 people in Ontario currently waiting for an organ transplant.
Her daughter Sarit knows time is running out.
"We want her to be around for many years," she pleaded. "We want her to see us getting married. We want her to see us having kids. And if we don't do something to change this, she's not going to be around."
To find out more about what George Marcello hopes to learn during his walk, you can call (416) 509-5719.