Palestinian running across Ontario to increase organ donors 0
Mayor Sandra Cooper and Councillor Dale West (right) with Khaled Khatib, who is running across Ontario to promote registrations for organ donations. Morgan Ian Adams/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin
COLLINGWOOD - A 20-year-old Palestinian is running across Ontario to drive home the importance of organ donations.
Khaled Khatib's brother was accidently killed by an Israeli soldier in 2005; rather than lash out in anger, Khatib's family donated his brother's organs, saving the lives of five Israeli children.
Last Thursday, Khatib was in town to meet Mayor Sandra Cooper, and 'pass on the torch' to 30 students from Collingwood Collegiate who came downtown to meet the young man on his torch run across the province.
Khatib's Torch for Life
"This is for all the people on the waiting lists for organ transplants," Khatib told the E-B through an interpreter. "I'm taking advantage of my story, to bring awareness to the importance of raising (the number of registered organ donors)."
Khatib's run is part of a campaign by Step by Step Organ Transplant Association to increase the number of Ontarians who have signaled their intention to be an organ donor to five million.
Step by Step CEO George Marcello - who received a liver transplant - said the 2.4 million Ontarians who are registered through Service Ontario "is still a low rate."
The hurdles to signing on include a general confusion about what one's religion permits, and a fear that a person would be "rushed to death" by physicians wanting to harvest a donor's organs.
But there's also a general "lackadaisicalness," said Marcello, which is why Step by Step is going across the province; Marcello carries with him a laptop computer with a Wi-Fi connection to help guide people through the process.
"We try to make it easy for people to do," he said.
He pointed out no religion has an edict against making a donation of one's organs, and he cites the credo that "if you save one life, you save mankind."
It was Pope Benedict, said Marcello, who has encouraged organ donation, and the need to "pass the torch to young people, because they will change the world."
For more on the Torch of Life program, go to http://www.torchoflife.com/. To become a registered organ donor, go to beadonor.ca, and follow the link to the Service Ontario website.
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