Calgary Police Service Deputy Chief Ryan Ayliffe announced today that the department has joined forces with police in California to raise awareness and increase the number of organ donors in Canada and the U.S. The Second Chances awareness initiative launched this weekend, with a blitz in the cities of Calgary, Fullerton and Placentia, where officers who encountered organ donors with minor traffic violations were giving offenders a second chance (a warning as opposed to a fine) for giving someone a second chance at life by registering to be an organ donor.
Throughout the blitz, drivers who had the ‘organ donor’ symbol on their licence were given a second chance to correct their violation without a fine – because their status as a registered donor gives fellow citizens a second chance at life.
Deputy Chief Ayliffe stated that the program allows police officers to engage with motorists who committed violations, such as illegal U-turns, parking offences, and other violations as prescribed by the police service.
In addition, at the discretion of individual officers, drivers who were not registered as organ donors were informed that they were being given a second chance to fix their violation without a fine, courtesy of the donor registration program, and that their consideration of becoming a registered organ donor would be most appreciated. Police officers across North America handed out Second Chance tickets instead of the ‘real thing’ and motorists were driven to secondchancesdonor.org – to find out more about the initiative and/or to register to become an organ donor.
The campaign in Canada features a partnership with the Canadian Transplant Association, the nationally-authorized nonprofit organization that raises awareness about organ donation, organizes volunteers and public advocacy and offers a support network for donors and recipients.
The need for more organ donors is critical, as per the following statistics:
- About 4,500 men, women and children are currently waiting for an organ transplant in Canada;
- Every year, 260 of those people will die before receiving a transplant. That means five deaths per week could have been saved with viable donors;
- Donation rates in Canada are far too low. Only 20.9 donors are available for every one million Canadian citizens, which puts Canada well below many other Western nations, including Spain (43.4) and the U.S. (31);
- While about 90 per cent of Canadians support organ and tissue donation, fewer than 20 per cent have made plans to donate; and
- One organ donor can save up to eight lives and a tissue donor can benefit up to 75 individuals.
*According to The Organ Donor Project, Canada
“We feel this smart and community-minded initiative is a win for our motorists and, hopefully, a win for all of the men, women and children in this country and across North America who are desperately in need of an organ donation,” said Deputy Chief Ayliffe. “Our hope is that citizens and other police services across North America will join Calgary and California police agencies in this initiative to grow organ donation across Canada and the US. This program turns a traditionally negative situation into a surprising and positive engagement and raises awareness for an extremely important cause.”
The Second Chances campaign runs for the duration of April, which is National Organ Donation Month and is supported by community initiatives, a website that streamlines the organ donation process and social media.
The Second Chances program is strictly voluntary for participating Calgary police officers at their discretion. Any additional traffic infractions or legal matters at the time of the traffic stop (i.e., outstanding moving violations, unpaid tickets, warrants for arrest) are outside the scope of this initiative.
For more information about this program, or to find out how your municipality, organization or group can become involved, visit the Second Chances website: https://www.secondchancesdonor.org