Febuary 2005 – January 10, 2007

May 24 2005, Queen’s Park Toronto Canada - During the time and after we completed Kristopher’s Wish, we were relentless in trying to work with the Ontario Liberal Government. Ontario NDP and MPP Peter Kormos championed a Private Members Bill on Opt Out. I persisted and met with high government officials, asking to meet with the Premier and Health Minister. I received deaf ears and rejection. I started organizing the European Tour, our 5th campaign. For the past 8 years we planted seeds in over 500 communities about the importance of organ and tissue donations. In our last campaign with Kris we reached people’s hearts. It was time now to go to countries that were experiencing very high rates of organ donations and physically bring back the evidence that would help persuade our country. I had met with TGLN and the new CEO to discuss my venture and sharing my report. At this time we received great support from our longtime media sponsor Multimedia Nova., President and CEO of Multimedia Nova Corporation Lori Abittan went on to say  “we are proud to be associated with such a worthy cause.”  (Multimedia Nova Corporation owns Corriere Canadese, its English weekend edition Tandem, Correo Canadiense, Spanish tri-weekly, Nove Ilhas, Portuguese weekly, Insieme, weekly Italian publication in Montreal and 9 Town Crier community papers distributed in 10 prominent areas in Toronto.

The following was my itinerary during this tour:

1. Rome will be our base. Representatives from A.I.D.O. (Mr. Michele Forte) will host me, as well as take an active role in organizing activities with representatives from other cities.

2. In England we will talk to Officials who were in favour of Opt Out and find out the barriers, the challenges in persuading their present government, and to find out what their future plans are

3. Arrange stops in Madrid, Paris, and Vienna

4. In each city meetings will take place with representatives and the following will be organized

a. Footage with representatives. We will hope to have a very positive, comprehensive, and informative portrayal of the Opt Out system explained.

b. Gather marketing, promotional and government materials promoting their systems

c. Gather footage, information from the front line individuals/groups that play roles in the process of organ donations

d. Set up press conferences in each city.

All information, materials and footage will be organized and to be used to promote our initiative in Canada

The following was our press release

M.P.P. N.D.P. Peter Kormos endorses  “ Opt Out Bill ”

(TORONTO) – George Marcello, an Ontario organ recipient and Founder/CEO of Step by Step, a Canadian non-profit charitable association, will be departing Toronto on June 1, 2005 to spend 15 days throughout Europe to gather important information on various global organ donation programs.  Representatives from European organ donation groups, including Spain, England, Austria, France and Italy will assist and host Mr. Marcello in an effort to provide insights and other information to address ongoing organ donation shortages here in Canada. 

Spain and other countries lead the world when it comes to organ and tissue donations. Mr. Marcello, a longtime advocate for reform in organ donor laws, is very excited and confident about the upcoming tour. Says Marcello, “We will bring back an important piece of the puzzle that will help to solve our present dilemma. From the information we gather, Canadians will be able to judge for themselves the positive effects of pro-active systems, such as Opt Out and other measures taken by European countries, that have a very high rate of saving people.”  

Mr. Marcello’s fact-finding mission will be part of a larger campaign to help create a Federal/Provincial Bill that will improve the rate of organ/tissue donations in Canada.  NDP MPP Peter Kormos took the initiative to introduce a Private Member’s Bill and his Opt Out Bill passed its first reading in November 2004.  These activities are part of a 2 year Step-By-Step initiative that also includes a national campaign across Canada,

“ SOS4000”, and the creation of  the Canadian Organ Donation Task Force.

June 12, 2005, Paris France - The European Tour was a success sofar. When I arrived in Paris, France, I felt suddenly very ill. My contact in France, Dr. Esmeralda Luciolli saved my life by making arrangement to admit me in a Paris hospital. I was told I had thrombosis and because of their excellent care, they kept me alive, however, I only had months left to live. Once again, I needed a liver transplant and I was critically ill. They told me I was too sick to travel and they didn’t want to risk me dying on the plane. My brother Sam arrived and efforts were being made to fly me back home. Against all odds, I made it on the plane.

July  2005, Toronto General Hospital, Canada - Again I faced life with making plans to meet my maker and to leave my belongings to loved ones. Then the miracle happened. On my 50th birthday, I received a liver, almost 10 years to the day I received the first liver. Was this fate, maybe I had to finish the work I started. Recovery was quick and I held a press conference 15 days after my transplant surgery at Queen’s Park.

Aug 11 2005, Queen’s Park Toronto, Canada - The following is my press release we sent out for this press conference

Aug 11 2005, Queen’s Park Toronto, Canada - The following is my press release we sent out for this press conference



 On June 1st 2005, George Marcello set out on a 5 European country tour to gather information to help improve the rate of organ and tissue donations in Canada. The tour was turning into a real success. " I was gathering information that was definitely going to help Canada says George".

 Near the end of the tour in Paris France, George became extremely sick. After being hospitalized in a Paris hospital for nearly a month, French doctors discovered a deadly infection that invaded George's body and concluded that George would need another liver transplant if the infection did not kill him first. 

After discovering the infection and treating it, the French doctors offered to put George on waiting list for transplant. George's wish was to come home to Toronto. Seven days of fever free had given him permission to board the plane.

 George arrived at the Toronto General Hospital back in the transplant unit where 10 years to the day he received his first liver. The incredible news was that a second liver was available for George on his 50th birthday with days remaining in his life.

 After a successful operation and rapid recovery, George quoted this definitely means that all the precious information gathered in Europe will be seen by Canadians, and that we are that much more determined and confidant to save more lives by improving our present system. 

Double Liver Transplant Survivor Calls for Negative-Option Donation in Canada

TORONTO (CP) - A two-time liver transplant recipient is calling on provincial governments to follow the lead of European countries by allowing negative-option organ donor registration in Canada.

Such a system would automatically put everyone on a donor list, unless people choose to opt out by signing a form indicating they don't want to donate their organs upon death. "What could be more important than trying to do everything we can do to save lives?" asked George Marcello, who takes his ongoing crusade to the Ontario legislature Thursday with a plea to enact presumed consent.

Marcello is recovering from his second liver transplant - received on his 50th birthday, 10 years to the day after receiving his first transplant due to hepatitis C.

He beat almost impossible odds by getting a second liver, and he still can't believe how lucky he was after he fell ill in Paris during an organ donation fact-finding mission this summer.

"I thought I was going to die in Paris, I had my funeral planned already," said Marcello, who suffered a blocked artery that caused him to develop abscesses in the first transplant.

Marcello got well enough to fly home to Toronto and then received the amazing news that a second liver had been found for him.

He will take his story to the Ontario legislature Thursday, where provincial politicians have been grappling with ways to increase donations.

Sept 27 2005, Queens Park, Toronto Canada - Shortly after I was discharged from the hospital, I wanted to follow up on some of Step By Step’s affairs. Before I left for Europe, I had meetings with TGLN Frank Markel and staff to discuss our report from Europe. TGLN rejected 10 years of our research and hired a private researcher who accumlated data from 2 months of web browsing. The researcher’s report (which was not favoring opt out) was submitted to the board at TGLN. They decided not to support opt out based on this report. TGLN submitted their recommendations to the Premier not to support opt out. Then the Premier went on to quash MPP Peter Kormos Private Member Bill on opt out making a public statement that Ontarians were ready to accept opt out.

The following is the news article:

Ontario rejects 'presumed consent' organ donation
Friday, September 23, 2005, Page A5

The Ontario government agency that administers organ donations will not follow the lead of European countries and allow negative-option organ donor registration.

The board of the Trillium Gift of Life Network decided this week that it would be premature to establish a "presumed consent" system in which all Ontarians are automatically put on a donor list unless they indicate they don't want their organs donated upon death.

I followed with my press release and press conference at Queen’s Park:


On Thursday September 22, the Trillium Gift of Life Network reached a decision not to recommend presumed consent. They advised the Ontario Government about their decision and Premier McGuinty supported the recommendation and went on to state that Ontarians would never accept the opt out system.This morning I am here to strongly challenge both the decision made by Trillium and the statement made by Premier McGuinty.

Canadians are dying almost every other day waiting for organ transplants. We have the potential to save everyone. This decision or lack of it was based on poor information and the process was irresponsible. Another opportunity has been lost.

2005 Fall - I participated in many other media interviews regarding the Opt Out System and the way the Ontario Government handled this issue.

Feb 16, 2006, Queens Park, Toronto Canada - MPP Peter Kormos and tells me that he reintroducing his bill

The following is the press release for press conference:

M.P.P Peter Kormos will reintroduce the Opt Out bill at Queen’s Park. Organ donation advocate George Marcello will join him. Mr. Marcello will unveil his long awaited report on organ donations based on 8 years of travels and research in 500 communities across Canada and last years European Tour.

Mar, Apr 2006 - In the next 2 months, there was a total of 4 private members regarding organ donation improvements submitted in the Ontario Legislisture. I was invited at each one of these bills by MPP’s respectfully. I went on to organize a much needed debate.

The following is the press release:

Each Ontario Provincial party is represented.
M.P.P Frank Klees, Peter Kormos, Jean Marc Lalonde & Dave Levac

BILL 33, BILL 61, BILL 67, BILL 77

                 In a span of 2 weeks, 3 private member bills were recently introduced in the Ontario Legislature, all of which purpose is to make significant changes to the province’s organ donation process. Along with these bills, we now have four in total.


                 We are attempting to inspire a very meaningful discussion, says longtime organ advocate George Marcello. More important, I feel that finally we have an opportunity to reach a turning point. The will seems to be there, so lets find out the how.

Date: April 25 2006

Time: 2:00 pm

Location: Columbus Centre, 901 Lawrence Ave, Tor, ON

June 27 2006, Ottawa Canada - For years we at Step By Step have relentlessly advocated  the use of non heart beating donations. Finally Canada performed the first one successfully. We now need to have every hospital across Canada perfoming these procedures.

The following is a news article:

Ontario OKs cardiac death organ donations

Ontario has become the first province in Canada to accept organs taken from people who have died of a heart attack, a move that will expand the potential donor pool by the hundreds.

The Trillium Gift of Life Network, the provincial agency in charge of organ and tissue donations, is expected to make the announcement today at the Ottawa Hospital, with the mother and father of a donor.

Until now, transplant organs have been harvested only from patients who've been declared brain dead. They make good donors because their heart is still pumping and their organs are still alive. Once the heart stops, oxygen no longer reaches organs and cells start to die.

With so-called donation after cardiocirculatory death (DCD), the federal Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation recommends an absence of a pulse, blood pressure and respiration for five minutes before two physicians pronounce the patient dead and the organs are eligible for consideration. They also have criteria for harvesting organs from people who have a cardiac arrest after life support is removed.

If the province accepts the recommendations, hospitals that have the surgeons and the skills will start with kidney transplants and expand to lungs and livers as expertise develops.

Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital recently estimated that, had they been able to harvest organs from cardiac arrest patients, they would have had access to another 28 kidneys - a 30 per cent increase - over an 18-month period.

"This is long overdue," said George Marcello, 50, an organ donation advocate who has undergone two liver transplants.

He created Step by Step, a group committed to increasing organ donor awareness, and has been actively campaigning for DCD for four years.

Marcello had his first liver transplant in 1995 following complications from hepatitis C. In 2005 he developed thrombosis while on a trip to Europe, and received another liver transplant.

"It could possibly raise the pool by what I feel is 20 per cent," he said, basing estimates on the European experience.

June, July 2006 -  We organized a booth in the heart of World Cup Soccer Madness, St. Clair Ave. We distributed thousands of multilingual donor cards during this time.

Aug  3 2006 Queen’s Park Toronto Canada -  We held a press conference urging the Ontario Government to allocate 2 million dollars for live donors. The funds were to pay for expenses travel etc, which sometimes added up to $5,000.00

Aug 2006 - I discuss with Daniel Brodlieb about starting up a Step By Step Club at Queen’s University. The main purpose is test the opt out system at school.

Oct 31, 2006 Queen’s Park Toronto Canada- I get contacted by 2 daughters whose 52 year old mother needs a liver transplant. I decide to walk from Queen’s Park to Ottawa to help the mother. During the walk I stop at Queen’s University to launch the Opt Out Simulation with Daniel and the club. During the end of my walk. Federal House Speaker MP Peter Miliken acknowledges my 10 year committment to organ awareness during a parliamentary session.

Nov 24 2006 Toronto Hospital Canada - Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman holds a press conference to announce his Citizen’s Panel on organ donations. He is giving this panel over a million dollars. I was present at this event and I passionately showed my displeasure to the Minister. I stated that this money was going to Blue Ribbon panel and government was doing some window dressing for the elections. The Harris Government and now the McGuinty Government has both broken big promises with Step By Step for the past 10 years. We have had one big photo op with guys and they have totally negletted and ignored as true working partner. This recent gesture seemed to the last straw for me. I make a decision to walk away from all this.

Jan 9 2007 - I was right again,

Ontario's $1-million organ-donation panel paying for public input
Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 | 4:43 PM ET
Canadian Press: CHINTA PUXLEY

TORONTO (CP) - An Ontario panel tasked with finding out what people think of becoming automatic organ donors is relying on paid focus groups after holding several public meetings across the province where no one showed up.

The panel has held 23 public meetings since it was appointed in November, but chairman Ted Boadway said the hearings were plagued by low turnout. The group is now gauging public opinion by paying for a dozen focus groups and conducting an online survey.


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