04/22/2013 01:23 EDT | Updated 06/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Helene Campbell, health minister, announce new organ transplant initiatives

OTTAWA - Organ donation activist Helene Campbell is stepping up efforts to help people waiting for transplants.

Campbell has launched the Give2Live Campaign, which aims to use online crowdfunding to raise money for families struggling to pay for housing and medical equipment as their loved ones await transplants.

Out-of-pocket expenses for people waiting to receive a transplant can average about $10,000, especially when they are required to live within two hours of the hospital where they expect to receive an organ.

Campbell, who is a double-lung transplant recipient herself, is hoping to raise enough money to help 30 families.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq also announced today the launch of a new, national transplantation research program.

Among the research projects being funded is one that might help to alleviate the side-effects of the anti-rejection drugs that transplant recipients must take after their surgeries.

Aglukkaq told an Ottawa news conference she also hoped the research would encourage more Canadians to donate organs and other body tissues.

About 4,500 Canadians are on transplant waiting lists at any given time.