Ottawa man cycling Canada for organ donation awareness
Published Saturday, July 13, 2013 5:01PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 13, 2013 5:02PM EDT
Ottawa man Cayse Ruiter lead a group of cyclists, including double-lung transplant recipient Helene Campbell, along the Rideau Canal Saturday to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation.
Ruiter is cycling across the country to encourage organ donation among Canadians.
Ruiter decided to begin his “Outlive Yourself” campaign in memory of his friend Matthew Antolin, who passed away in December 2012 awaiting a heart transplant.
“It hits you really hard when you realize, you know what, this was preventable,” Ruiter said.
“Eight people can be saved by one person's donation of organs, whether it's your lungs, kidney liver, pancreas, small bowel or heart.”
Ruiter’s journey is taking him from Tofino, B.C. to St. John’s, N.L. He is spending the weekend in Ottawa to repair his bicycle and take a couple of days off from the cross-country cycling trip.
Helene Campbell, who received a lifesaving double lung transplant in April 2012, hopes Ruiter’s campaign will push more Canadians to sign up to be organ donors.
“I'm still alive because someone made that decision, and I'm so grateful to the family who did,” she said.
“To have the ability to get on a bike, I never thought I'd have that again, so… you know I get teary when I think about it.”
Wtih Matthew in mind, Ruiter hopes his journey can ultimately save lives.
"This is a conversation that has to happen in every household, just what do I want to have done if I pass away?" he said. "Just like you wouldn’t want to pass away without a will, I think it’s really important you don’t want to pass away without having people know what you want to have done with your body if you were to pass away, and that includes organ donation."
Ruiter plans to wrap up his journey in early August.