A PROJECT, A MOVEMENT, A PASSION
CHAIN OF LIFE has received the support of several organisations including Desjardins (our main financial partner), la Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec, la Fédération des comités de parents du Québec, the Kidney Foundation of Canada (Québec), la Fondation Léonne-Ouellette and the Quebec Government, as well as numerous private donors, including several from Rivière-du-Loup.
More than a project, CHAIN OF LIFE is a movement in the making.
A Unique Story
It all started in 2004 when a young Ontarian, Kristopher Knowles, visited a Secondary II English class to give testimony about the shortage of organs. Kristopher, who was waiting for a liver transplant, had been invited to carry the Torch of Life across Canada. A student, Josianne Sirois, was particularly moved by his message. A seed was sown.
Two years later, the Step-by-Step Foundation launched a contest across Canada inviting students to find a way to raise awareness about organ donation among young people. Josianne shared her desire with her teacher to create a website about the difficulties faced by those awaiting a transplant. That teacher, Lucie Dumont, immediately realised how amazing this project could become if a pedagogical component designed especially for English as a Second Language was added.
Over the course of time, Lucie met Linda Béland, who told her about her son, Vincent, who had died in a climbing accident, leaving the family with the difficult decision of whether or not to donate his organs, without knowing what his wishes would have been. "Vincent’s Story" has become a key element in the unit.
At about the same time, Doris Rainha, a teacher who was field-testing the unit, was about to witness an improbable turn of events. One of her students, Stéphanie Tapp, became particularly passionate about the importance of organ donation. She told her mother that, should the situation arise, she wanted her organs to be donated. After initially refusing Stéphanie’s request to sign her organ donor card, her mother finally accepted her daughter’s wish as a selfless and generous act. Two weeks later, Stéphanie died in a car accident. Thanks to CHAIN OF LIFE, her parents, still in shock, remembered what Stéphanie wanted and agreed to donate her organs. Four lives were saved.
"Stéphanie’s Story" not only confirms the relevance of the CHAIN OF LIFE project, it also demonstrates how family discussion facilitates the decision relatives are called upon to make and it provides a certain peace of mind and comfort in their grief.
The educational unit also contains an interview with Hélène Campbell, a young woman who received a lung transplant. Since the interview is conducted by Josianne Sirois, we can say that the project has come full circle!
CHAIN OF LIFE is a work of passion and perseverance that captivates the hearts of all those who discover it.
What is the CHAIN OF LIFE project?
CHAIN OF LIFE is first and foremost an educational unit (LES) designed to be part of the English as a Second Language (ESL) syllabus for Secondary IV. The unit is in line with the MELS (Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport) program and contributes to the students’ development of ESL knowledge and competency while dealing with a current social issue. It presents all the necessary information to bring students to reflect and form a personal opinion on organ and tissue donation and to share it with their family. The purpose is not to convince, but to inform.
Several elements ensure the success of the unit for both students and teachers, namely, its approach, its content and the exceptional quality of the material. In addition, the medical and scientific content has been validated by Transplant Québec.
- Integration of three fields: education, health and social values;
- A wide variety of activities and tasks;
- Testimonies and real life stories;
- The desire to reach all students (differentiation);
- An interactive website with a section reserved for teachers.
- A complete, ready-to-use teaching kit offered free of charge to teachers during the one-day training session;
- A comprehensive guide with additional information on organ donation and a glossary of specialised terms to help teachers deliver the unit with confidence.
Organ and tissue donation
- Facts and myths;
- Organs and tissues that can be transplanted;
- The main actors (donors, people on the waiting list, recipients, specialists in transplantation nurses, donor families, etc.);
- Constraints (availability of organs, compatibility);
- The waiting list.
The importance of making an informed decision regarding organ donation and sharing it with your loved ones
- Ex-vivo, organogenesis, artificial hearts, stem cells, etc.
- Respect and dignity;
- The allocation of organs;
- Commercialisation of organs;
- Essential roles of the organs;
- The principle of rarity;
- The importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle.
The celebration of life
More than 150 teachers and 5,000 young people throughout Quebec have already lived theCHAIN OF LIFE project.
What sets CHAIN OF LIFE apart from other projects on organ donation?
There are several programmes on organ donation, but CHAIN OF LIFE is the only one that stems directly from a school. The project focuses on the celebration of life, dialogue and especially, freedom of choice. It is the only unit that targets a single audience and a single school subject. What’s more, it is the only one to include a health component. The principle at the root of the project is that the rarity of organs increases their value, thus the importance of keeping them healthy.
CHAIN OF LIFE is exempt from all moral judgment. And it brings together all generations and strata of society.
In Quebec, over 1,000 people are currently on the waiting list for a transplant.
Why focus the CHAIN OF LIFE project on family discussion and not simply on organ and tissue donation?
The goal of CHAIN OF LIFE is to raise awareness and to inform students about organ donation by presenting them with the facts and real life stories. Its goal is not to convince.
Organ and tissue donation affects people of all ages. Although the majority of Quebeckers say they are in favour of organ donation, many potential donations are lost, often because the family does not know their loved one’s wishes. Signing your medical insurance card or signing the register of consent of the RAMQ is a good start, but it does not suffice. Ultimately, it is the family that has the last word, so we need to talk about it.
By encouraging young people to make a decision about organ donation and to share it with their parents, CHAIN OF LIFE makes them ambassadors for family discussion. It is by educating young people and encouraging them to discuss organ donation with their family that we will succeed in reaching the general population.
A WELL-INFORMED POPULATION = LIVES SAVED