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Walk for a Second Chance encourages organ donations

Gerry Lougheed, who helped promote and rescue the walk, when there was uncertainty as to whether or not it would even happen due to a funding shortage, said early in the day he was confident the event would reach its goal.
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Around 500 people clad in green t-shirts marched down Paris Street Sunday afternoon for the 15th annual Walk for a Second Chance. The walk's goal was to sign up 600 new organ donors in Sudbury. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.
Gerry Lougheed, who helped promote and rescue the walk, when there was uncertainty as to whether or not it would even happen due to a funding shortage, said early in the day he was confident the event would reach its goal.

“As a funeral director for 38 years, sadly I know about the thousands of organs that have been buried and cremated, that could have given the gift of life,” Lougheed said.

Thanks to past walks, the city of Greater Sudbury has amongst the highest rates of organ donors in Ontario.

In December 2013, around 46 per cent of Sudburians were registered with the province's organ donor list.

In outlying communities like Lively, Garson, Hamner and Val Caron the numbers are even higher, surpassing 50 per cent.

In contrast, only 16 per cent of Toronto residents are registered with the provincial organ donor list.

Around 500 people walked down Paris Street from Bell Park, and up through the boardwalk near Science North, to encourage Sudburians not yet signed up as organ donors to make the plunge.

Michel Babin, a kidney transplant recipient, was one of those participants.

“What a wonderful feeling it is not to have to depend on a machine to exist from week to week,” he said.

In 2002 Babin was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome – a pulmonary-renal syndrome in which the immune system attacks the lungs and kidneys.
He was on dialysis for nearly two years before he received his kidney transplant.

Others have been less fortunate.

Terry O'Reilly, the host of the CBC program Under the Influence, and a Sudbury native, talked about his brother Mike O'Reilly, and his battle with cystic fibrosis.

Mike died 15 years ago waiting for a double-lung transplant.

It was his death that pushed his father, Mel O'Reilly, a founding member of the Irish Heritage Club, to start Walk for a Second Chance.

There are more than 1,500 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant in Ontario and 25 per cent of eligible Ontarians are registered as organ donors.

To become a registered organ donor visit Beadonor.ca or register in person at a ServiceOntario centre.

Jonathan Migneault

About the Author: Jonathan Migneault

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