Over the past year, we’ve followed the stories of people like Hélène Campbell and Kayla Baker, inspiring Canadians who have spread awareness of the need and importance of organ donors.
Just last week, the community of Cambridge, Ontario, painted the town green for Kayla, a 14 year old who had been on the waiting list for a lung transplant for two years. Green ribbons were tied everywhere around town. The community came together in such a profound way and as a result, there was a definite increase in donor registry rates in the area.
With National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week coming up on April 21 - 28, we thought it would be a great time to share a little bit of Kin history on the subject.
In 2001, we adopted the Kin Organ Donor Awareness Campaign. The story begins with Andrew Hatfield, a Kin member who had a congenital heart disease and died waiting for a transplant in 2000. After this, Kin adopted Kin-ODAC to continue his cause.
Below is part of an article about the inspiring story of Andrew Hatfield and how Kin-ODAC came to be. (This is from the March 2001 Issue of KIN Magazine, written by Anne Marie Fleming of the Kinette Club of St. John’s East).
“Life can be so unpredictable at times that we become frustrated at our lack of control over events that seem unfair to us. Imagine the frustration of constant illness, the toll it takes on your body, your mind, and your family.
Andrew Hatfield knew frustration. Born 25 years ago with a complex congenital heart disease… his first heart surgery was at the age of one week. He subsequently had five open heart surgeries, one of which left him with a further complication that caused him to go into heart failure numerous times. He eventually went to Ottawa and waited 22 months for a heart transplant.
For Peggy and Larry Hatfield, Andrew’s birth was the beginning of a 25-year journey to doctors, hospitals, and other health centres seeking treatments for Andrew, waiting for someone to find the solution to his heart problems.
Through many of his ordeals, Andrew’s sense of humour shone through… A level of celebrity also followed Andrew, probably as a by-product of his youth, and the fact that he was away from home for serious medical reasons…
Then [he reached] a new level of celebrity status – as a Kinsman. When his dad Larry received his life membership, Andrew became the first ever Kin Kid to join the Kinsmen Club of St. John’s East. No longer a kid, he became a great Kinsman, joining discussions and challenging debate. And he showed his spunky side when, from his sick bed at the Kaneway Hospital, he got on the phone and outsold all other Kinsmen in the club’s Vegetable Drive.
It was through this Kin connection that Andrew felt a contribution could be made to the program that became his passion, the Organ Donor Program. While thinking out loud one day he revealed his wish to help in some way. A few contacts later and what do you know? Our Association is on the verge of becoming an educational avenue for this program through the network of Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs of Canada.
Andrew knew of our power as an Association. He grew up with it, and then he became a part of it…
What other gift is there that you get for free, use it yourself as long as you want, and then when it is no good to you any more, just give it away and have the recipient treasure it as the most precious gift he or she has ever received?”
Andrew’s story was powerful to Kin 12 years ago, and is still moving our members to act, to spread awareness of the need for organ donors today. Even before the Campaign, our Founder, Hal Rogers, believed in the importance of organ donors, and his eyes were donated for transplantation upon his passing in 1994.
The value of donors is staggering; as many as 80 people can benefit from one organ and tissue donor. So join us this April as we continue to raise awareness. Visit LiveOn.ca to learn more and find out how to register as a donor in your province or territory.