Thomas rides cross-country to raise awareness for organ donation 0
Dale Sinclair and Quinn Thomas in Portage la Prairie over the weekend. Thomas is riding across Canada to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
When Dale Sinclair was a baby, he required a heart transplant and 15 years later, he's still going strong, living a quality and athletic lifestyle.
While the local athlete is a definite success story of organ donation, there's still a need for more people to get on board with the idea.
That's why when Quinn Thomas, a second-year medical student student from Laval University, stopped in Portage la Prairie last weekend as a rest stop on his cross-country cycling tour, the Sinclairs wanted to do what they could to support his cause.
"This ride that Quinn is doing amazes us. (Quinn) had the opportunity to meet people who need organ donation. It just seems to mean so much to him and it was a powerful talk that he gave. As soon as I heard it, I thought how I can help out so we put him up. I wish there was more we could do," said Rob, Dale's father.
Dale and his family recently returned from Calgary after participating in the 6th Canadian Transplant Games. Dale, who's a specialist in swimming and track, has competed four times in his short career (Windsor, Australia and Quebec City).
During their time in Calgary, they heard about Thomas' efforts to raise awareness for organ donation and were impressed by his drive and determination, despite having no personal connection to the cause.
"I'm a medical student. I finished my second year of studies at University Laval in Quebec city. After being involved in the intimacy of a patient lives, in the moment of vulnerability, I decided that riding across Canada was something I could do without having a medical degree so here I am," said Thomas.
"It's not because I have a relative that has had an organ transplant but it's because we have more of a chance to require an organ donation than we do actually becoming organ donors," he added.
Last year, 54 people received organs from donors; 39 of those people had successful kidney transplants. That number was down from 2010 statistics in which 76 people received new organs with 53 of those kidneys, according to Transplant Manitoba.
"There's only 14% of registered donors in Canada whereas 85% of Canadians think organ donation is a good thing. There's a large job that can be done just raising awareness and letting people know that they have a great gift that they could share in the world," said Thomas.
From January to May 2012, 19 donations have been successfully transplanted. The Province is doing their part of raise awareness as well.
Health Manitoba set up a organ donation website on April 23, 2012 for Manitobans to register as donors. So far, 6,451 people have signed up, said Jillian Barrott, communications co-ordinator of Transplant Manitoba.
"The challenge is getting people to talk about it and that's our goal. That's why what Quinn is doing is so important. If we can get people talking about it at the dinner table, then that's a good thing.
While it's not exactly table talk per se, Thomas is hoping that people talk about it nonetheless.
"I will have time to cycle across Canada long before someone who needs a kidney could receive one. That's the essential reason that I am doing this," said Thomas.
If you want to support Quinn's ride across Canada, check out his website at www.organdonationheroes.ca. You can also log onto Transplant Manitoba's website or www.signupforlife.ca
Do you plan to eventually register as an organ donor?