Great Actions Leave a Mark campaign features Indigenous Manitobans honouring donors and the gift of life
Oct. 18, 2022 – Ten years ago this week, Kevin Settee received the greatest gift he could ever receive from his older brother Craig – a kidney. Now the Anishinaabe/Cree filmmaker and photographer is using his talents to honour that gift by working to raise awareness about living organ donation.
As part of a new awareness campaign focused on the gift of living organ donation called Great Actions Leave a Mark, Settee met with Indigenous Manitoba recipients and living donors to capture their stories and produce black and white images incorporating the brilliant green that represents organ and tissue donation.
A number of videos chronicling the stories of Manitoba living donors and recipients have been produced and posted to greatactions.ca. It includes the Settee brothers, both members of the Fisher River Cree Nation who grew up in Winnipeg, discussing their personal experience with living organ donation.
“I try not to take life for granted, to support my family, take care of my community and just live life happy. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever received in my life, and you could save someone’s life by doing it as well,” Kevin said. “So, I would encourage people to contact your living donation centre to learn more.”
“Seeing my brother struggle on dialysis was difficult and I wanted to do something that could help,” said his big brother Craig. “The biggest gift of being a kidney donor is that I was able to help my brother to live with a new kidney.”
Photo credit: Kevin Settee
The Great Actions Leave a Mark campaign, launched by University Hospital Network’s Ajmera Transplant Centre in Toronto and The Centre for Living Organ Donation, is the first of its kind to combine photos and videos of recipients and living donors across Canada to help start conversations about living donation. Created in collaboration with YE Agency, BC Transplant, Canadian Blood Services and the Can-SOLVE CKD Network, the campaign shines a light on the impact of living organ donation and provides a platform for people to share their experiences along the path to living donation.
“Living organ donors have a profound impact on the lives of transplant recipients. Our transplant program is proud to promote these inspiring stories. And yet, so much more is needed to increase awareness and the number of organs available for transplant. This campaign is a beautiful and impactful way to help address this issue,” said Dr. Atul Humar, director of the Ajmera Transplant Centre.
Living organ donation offers a shorter pathway to transplant with less wait time and better health outcomes for those who need a liver or kidney. Yet many people are not aware of this option.
“Kidney transplantation is the best treatment for many patients with kidney failure, providing them with better health and an improved quality of life,” said Dr. Leroy Storsley, Medical Director of Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life’s Living Kidney Donor Program.
From 2019 through to 2021, more than 60 living donor pairs have gone through the donation journey with Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life’s Living Kidney Donor Program. In 2021, 595 living organ donors – 502 living kidney and 93 living liver donors – stepped forward in Canada to donate and save someone’s life. Each of these people’s lives were saved because of the incredible gift of life a donor provided. However, the number of organs available for those on the transplant waitlist still falls short.
To date, there are almost 3,500 people in Canada waiting for a kidney or liver transplant. Last year, a total of 652 Canadians were removed from the organ transplant wait list. Of these, 38 per cent died while waiting.