RecycleMe Organ Donor Campaign Visits U of G

September 23, 2009 - News Release

The University of Guelph is one of the first stops on a campus tour aimed at starting a new social movement promoting organ and tissue donation.

The tour is an extension of the RecycleMe campaign launched in the spring by the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) to raise awareness about the critical need for organ and tissue donors. Geared specifically toward youth, the campaign is anchored by a provocative website,, that urges them to consider the ultimate act of recycling.

RecycleMe volunteers will be on hand Sept. 24 at the Sustainability Week resource fair, at Alumni Stadium Sept. 26 for the Homecoming football game, and at a community forum and reception on Sept. 28 in the University Club.

“Every three days someone dies waiting for an organ transplant and it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Claire Alexander, special projects manager in the U of G president’s office and a member of the TGLN family advisory board. “Organ donation simply isn’t on the radar for many people. For most, it’s not that they won’t do it – they just don’t want to think about it or talk about it. Young people, though they tend to think of themselves as invincible, seem to be more willing to talk about it openly and frankly. That’s what this campaign is about – getting people to talk about it.”

A single donor can save up to eight lives, she added. In Ontario, people who wish to donate their organs may register their consent with the ministry of health. Signing a donor card is not always enough. People can register their consent when they renew or apply for their OHIP card, or by filling out a consent form and mailing it to the ministry of health. Consent forms are available for download online. The information is then kept on a ministry of health database that is available to doctors 24/7.

Alexander’s commitment to the cause is the positive legacy born in the tragic loss of her son Fraser nearly eight years ago. Fraser died unexpectedly from surgery complications at the age of four. Devastated by their loss, Alexander and her husband wanted to do what they could to prevent other parents from experiencing the same sorrow. So they agreed to donate Fraser’s organs.

“For me, it’s such a gift to be involved in this. It allows me to pour my energy into something positive. Organ donation does save lives,” she said. “It’s the most devastating thing in the world to lose a child. Fraser died four days before Christmas, which of course in many ways makes it more painful. But every Christmas, I also know that there are five families out there who are thinking about my son and what his gift meant to them.”

Brianne Cordick understands what it means to receive the gift of life. The 24-year-old received a double-lung transplant in August and has taken a leave from her studies in anthropology at U of G to allow her immune system to recover.

“Donating your organs is one of the most heroic things you can do,” said Cordick, who had battled chronic lung problems since birth. “Without the transplant, I don’t know how much longer I would have had. The gratitude that I feel toward my donor can’t be expressed in words.”

At 17, Cordick was diagnosed with bronchiectasis, an incurable condition that develops due to repeated infections and causes the airways to become inflamed and produce excess mucous. The damage leaves the lungs vulnerable to more infections. Nevertheless, with the help of medication and breathing exercises, Cordick’s condition was stable for five years.

But then she got sicker. And sicker.

“Before the transplant, I was taking 13 different inhaled and oral antibiotics. Nothing was working. As the condition got worse, holes formed in my airways, parts of my lungs stopped working altogether. I was in constant pain from the scarring in my lungs, and my lungs were stuck to my ribs because of all the damage done by the disease.”

After waiting 15 months on the list, Cordick received her transplant two weeks prior to her 24th birthday. Now she walks nearly everywhere possible, whereas before just putting on her socks or doing up a seatbelt left her breathless and ready to pass out.

“I’ve been given my life back,” she said.

On Sept. 24, students can browse the website at computer kiosks set up during the Sustainability Week resource fair. There will also be handouts and consent forms and students will get the chance to compete for an iPod Touch by playing a life-sized version of the classic Operation game.

Information, consent forms and T-shirts and stress balls will also be available during the Homecoming football game on Sept. 26.

The community forum and information session is scheduled for Sept. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the University Club. The hour-long session will be followed by a pizza reception.

For more information, contact Claire Alexander at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53098, or For information about organ donation, visit

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs; Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338 or, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982, or

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1