by Julie Slack, Mississauga.com
David Loughlin-Ross can't understand why anyone would take their organs with them when they die.
The 52-year-old Clarkson resident, who underwent a liver transplant procedure in 2005, encourages everyone to embrace the Trillium Gift of Life Network's new donor awareness campaign, Recycle Me.
"Why would you bury something that is valuable — much more valuable than money?" he asked. "It's a life.
"Because of (the liver) I got, three years later I got to walk my eldest daughter down the aisle. And since then, I became a grandfather to three new grandchildren. I would have missed all of this without the transplant."
Recycle Me organizers will bring the campaign to the University of Toronto Mississauga on Thursday, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., to inspire a new generation to save lives. Those who want to sign up must bring with them a valid Ontario Health Card.
Organizers say everyone has the power to save lives by simply registering their consent to organ and tissue donation. However, only 17 per cent of the eligible population in Ontario has taken this step.
Loughlin-Ross, who married his partner, Daove Ross, one year before he was diagnosed with liver cancer, knows firsthand what it means to get a new life.
"A family decided they would give up their organs, so that I'm able to live," he said.
When Loughlin-Ross was first placed on the donor list, he joined some 1,700 people waiting for life-saving organs.
In Ontario, one person dies every three days waiting for an organ transplant, according to Gift of Life statistics.
Loughlin-Ross says he was lucky. He waited only six months before receiving a phone call telling him a liver was waiting for him. "I think I was the happiest patient ever wheeled into an operating room," he said. "I was ecstatic, with a huge smile on my face. "I'm middle-aged and planning on being around to see great-grandchildren. These are opportunities that, six years ago, I never anticipated."
For more information, visit recycleMe.org.