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Be a donor: Irish Heritage Club makes its annual organ donation appeal

Flag-raising event at city hall draws attention to the need for people to go online to formally register as an organ donor
Supporters of organ donations in Ontario observed a moment of silence during a flag-raising event held in Sudbury on April 30. The local event hosted by the Irish Heritage Club of Sudbury is an annual event to raise awareness of the need for organ donation.

The importance of organ donations was showcased Tuesday at a flag-raising event at Tom Davies Square, hosted by the Irish Heritage Club of Sudbury, which has taken on the role of education and awareness for organ donations.

The event, held in the city hall atrium, featured several organ transplant recipients along with organ donors, who have had life-changing experiences.

Laurie Lamour spoke of the importance of people officially registering their wishes in order to be certain that their organs and tissues can be donated at the time of their death.

Lamour is a specialist with the Trillium Gift Of Life Network (TGLN) and a donor co-ordinator at Health Sciences North.

Laurie Lamour is a specialist with the Trillium Gift Of Life Network (TGLN) and a full time donor coordinator at Health Sciences North. She is speaking at a flag-raising ceremony hosted by the Irish Heritage Club of Sudbury is an annual event to raise awareness of the need for organ donation. Len Gillis / Sudbury.Com

She said her job is to work with donor families and determine whether a suitable organ or tissue donation can be made and to work closely with the Trillium Gift of Life Network to ensure testing is done for suitability and that all the correct registration information is in place.

Lamour said one of the myths of the organ donation process is that a person only needs a signed donor card to become a donor.

"And in fact, that's not true," Lamour told the gathering. "You need to go on to and register your wish.”

Lamour said the process is easy. People who want to officially be a donor can go online, enter their personal health card information, enter their birth date and fill in the blanks.

Lamour said when she has conversations with family members, it means she and the family can be confident that the donor's wishes are being met.

Lamour said although surveys have indicated more than 80 per cent of the Ontario population supports organ donations the actual number of registrations works out to about 35 per cent of the population.

"Sudbury is above average. We sit at 57 percent at 14 out of 170 communities. So that's a good rate. As of April 29, there's 1,269 people on the (Ontario) waitlist," she said.

When people go online to register officially as an organ donor, it makes make the donation process easier on their family in particular, said Lamour.

"When I talk to these families in the ICU (intensive care unit) and they know that their loved one has registered their wish, it's easy for them to make that decision."

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas supported Lamour's position and said she has been working in  the legislature to have a law that has “presumed consent” for organ donations, something she has been trying to get passed through a private members bill. Her latest effort was tabled in 2023. Essentially it would require Ontario residents to "opt out" of organ donations instead of the requirement to opt-in by registration.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas promoted the idea of having “presumed consent: for organ donations in Ontario, meaning that those opposed to donations would have the opportunity to “opt out”. Len Gillis / Sudbury.Com

Gélinas said she has learned that some groups are opposed to the idea, but she said the legislation would have several safeguards to ensure that no person or family would be forced into making an organ or tissue donation.

"It has been done in other provinces. Nova Scotia was the first province to bring in a similar bill. It has changed organ donation in that province for the better," said Gélinas.

She said there are specialized transplant centres in Ontario that are ready and willing to do the work, all that is needed is more registrations. She mentioned the University Health Network in Toronto and the London Health Sciences Centre as examples. 

"They have the capacity to do a whole lot more transplants. I know that our hospitals are very busy in some departments, but that's not the case for the transplant department. We have the knowledge. We have the skills. We have the staff. We are ready to help a whole lot more people. What we don't have are the organs to do the donations to do the transplants."

Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre read the official proclamation for recognizing Organ Donor Month in Sudbury. The group also took part in the flag raising ceremony in Tom Davies Square. 

Len Gillis is a reporter at


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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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