Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Brief Intermission

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I will be absent from the blog to take part in National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week activities. Regular posts will resume on the weekend. Meanwhile, please browse previous posts and links. Thanks, Merv.

An invitation to be part of the Living Green Ribbon April 26th

Example of a Living Green RibbonYou are invited to take part in a Living Green Ribbon event this Wednesday, April 26th during National Organ and Tissue Donation awareness week.

The green ribbon is the internationally recognized symbol for organ and tissue donation. By using people to form the ribbon shape, we symbolize the life-giving and life-enhancing affects of organ and tissue donation. Each person who makes up the ribbon represents those on waiting lists across the province and country. It also symbolizes the donors and donor families who have given so generously to help others.

The Living Green Ribbon event was started by the Organ Donation Committee of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Eastern Ontario Branch. The first event was held on Parliament Hill in April, 2002 when hundreds of people assembled on the steps in front of the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. For photos of Ottawa's past Living Green Ribbons go to Green Ribbon Photos

When the committee began the Living Green Ribbon, their greatest wish was that it could become a provincial, or even national event drawing attention each year to the tremendous need for organ and tissue donation. This year, with the support of the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN), the Kidney Foundation of Canada branches and volunteers across the province and many others, the Living Green Ribbon will take place in the 10 Ontario coummunities listed below.

As a member of the Provincial Volunteer Committee for Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) I’m working with the local Kidney Foundation to recruit volunteers from the Waterloo Region to help form the Living Green Ribbon in Kitchener. (Other Ontario locations are listed below).

In Kitchener-Waterloo area we invite you to take part in the Living Green Ribbon taking place in the Civic Square at the Kitchener City Hall. The Living Green Ribbon will be made up of organ and tissue recipients, donors, donor families and other champions for organ and tissue donation. I and other guest speakers will be on hand to join the festivities and media is invited.

If you would like to take part in this exciting event, please show up at Civic Square, Kitchener City Hall Wednesday, April 26th at 10 a.m.. We will be giving green ponchos (yours to keep) to everyone attending for use in forming the ribbon.

The media have been informed we will have the ribbon in place by 10:30 a.m. so you will need to arrive no later than 10:00 a.m. for the ribbon to be formed in time for media photos to be taken.

All Living Green Ribbon locations in Ontario on April 26th
Following are the locations and contact information for the various events:

  • Ottawa - Parliament Hill
    contact: Leanne McDougall, (819) 243-6218

  • Toronto - MaRS Discovery Tower, 101 College Street
    contact: Trillium Gift of Life Network, Cailey Crawford (416) 363-4001

  • London - Courtyard, London City Hall
    contact: Shelley Ralf (519) 685-1007

  • Kingston - The Fountain, Confederation Basin
    contact: Tracey Bennett (613) 542-2121

  • Thunder Bay - Thunder Bay Health Sciences Centre
    contact: Sandra Petzel, (807) 684-603

  • Hamilton - St. Elizabeth Village, 391 Rymal Rd. W.
    contact: Terence Maynard (905) 318-4830, Ext. 17

  • Windsor - Charles Clark Square
    contact: Anne Brinkman (519) 977-9211

  • Chatham-Kent - John McGregor High School, 300 Cecile Ave., Chatham - contact: Sherrie Burton (519) 685-1007

  • Kitchener-Waterloo - Civic Square, Kitchener City Hall
    contact: Jennifer Francis (519) 742-2023

  • Sarnia - Germain Park, Bright St., Sarnia
    contact: Elaine Hayter (519) 344-3462

Thank you in advance for your help in promoting organ and tissue donation awareness and please feel free to circulate this posting to others you feel would be interested in taking part!

We’re hoping for a big attendance (the goal is 400 in Kitchner) and everyone is encouraged to come out. The more people that do the more attention it will bring to organ and tissue donation and the wonderful results it can have for individuals like us in the transplant community.

I'll close with this thought taken from the Living Green Ribbon web site:

"We asked you to come out and form a living tableau –– to symbolize your solidarity with those whose names are on the long waiting list for a life-saving or life-enhancing transplant, solidarity with those families who despite their own grief have become donor families, the growing numbers of people who have become living donors. Many more of you have come out just because it’s the right thing to do. And bless you all."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Organ donation fundraisng scam?

Be wary of telephone calls asking for cash donations in support of organ donation.

I received a phone call from someone in Colborne, Ontario asking me if I knew anything about telephone solicitation of funds for organ donation. Both the caller and her mother received calls asking them to donate and to give their credit card number. They both asked the caller to send them an information pamphlet before doing anything but they are suspicious anyway.

Another contact reports that the same thing is happening in New Brunswick.

We only hear about these incidents when someone becomes suspicious and reports it. But many citizens are victims without realizing it, especially those who are going through pain and suffering and think they are helping themselves or a loved one who has or needs an organ transplant.

The RCMP has issued the following public announcements about telephone fraud on their web site:

  • DO NOT disclose information about your finances, bank accounts or credit cards (not even the credit card expiry date).

  • DO NOT be afraid to hang-up the phone.

“Those who feel they may have been victimized by a scam charity are advised to call the PhoneBusters National Call Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

It's a sad fact that unscrupulous people may try to profit from the pain and suffering of others by approaching well-meaning Canadians for donations.

There's no reason to think these sorts of scams will not surface. Those wishing to make charitable donations are advised to do so cautiously.”

For more information go to RCMP Frauds & Scams web site.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No Rejection

Initial test results from my bronchoscopy last week are finally back and are negative for rejection of my transplanted lung, which is a great relief. I'm still waiting for results of the of sputum specimens and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid that were obtained for culture and analysis. As a precaution, the transplant team is presently organizing some gastric emptying tests for me to rule out aspiration of gastric contents.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I just can't say enough about the wonderful care provided by the lung transplant team at Toronto General Hospital. When my pulmonary function and other tests showed lower results than previously, I was immediately booked for an emergency bronchoscopy. That was last Wednesday. Early Thursday evening, my coordinator, Debbie Zogalo called me at home to follow up. Its nice to know I'm in such good hands.

Monday, April 17, 2006

My four-year assessment results

The four-year assessment took longer than expected last week because the lung transplant team booked me for an emergency bronchoscopy Wednesday. This was because some of my other tests suggested that I might be experiencing some rejection of my transplanted lung. The results are not back yet because of the long Easter Holiday weekend and hopefully I'll hear something by tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 10, 2006

My four-year assessment

I spent today at Toronto General Hospital going through a battery of tests for the four-year assessment of my lung transplant. There were blood tests, a chest x-ray, bone density tests, pulmonary function tests, a six-minute walk and clinic appointments. I still have a bronchoscopy and other tests to complete over the next few days.

During the course of the day I had the pleasure of meeting many other lung transplant patients who I hadn't seen for a long time or had never met. I had a talk with Al Jack, Owen and Rita Davison, Kristi Mitton and her father (Kristi is waiting for a lung & liver transplant), Vern and Audrey Leonard, Helen Bird (waiting for a lung transplant) and daughter Kim, Kori Johansen and her daughter Christina, Kim Cassar, Vivian Rosenberg and Herb Kershaw, to name a few. All seemed to be doing very well with their gifts of life. I also had a chat with Sharon Andrews, a liver transplant recipient on the Birthday Ball committee who was at the hospital promoting it.

As ususal the hospital staff were wonderful, including the physicians. They made me feel like I was the only patient they had even though the waiting room was full.

It's been a full day and I'm now a little weary but have that warm feeling which comes from the special bond those of us in the organ transplant community have.

I'll resume regular posts here when I return from finishing my assessment later this week.

Friday, April 07, 2006

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center top lung transplant performer in U.S.

Lung and heart-lung transplants are increasing in most transplant centers in North America, thanks to improved donor rates and research that allows organs to be used that were previously not considered acceptable for transplant.

This news that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center performed 87 lung transplants last year is 29 more than the 2004 total of 58. This does not include heart-lung transplant totals. (Toronto's Lung Transplant team performed 65 lung transplants in 2005, according to Trillium Gift of Life Network and are on a pace to exceed that number this year)

Read the article in today's Post Gazette that notes UPMC may perform more than 100 lung transplants this year, according to Dr. Kenneth McCurry, director of cardiopulmonary transplantation at the UPMC Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cohabiting is bad for women's health - but not men's

Transplant recipients and their families are constantly reminded of the importance of maintaining ideal body weight to insure optimum health and long-term survival. I like this new approach suggested by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne study. At least from the male perspective, it might be a good idea to move in with somebody (only if you are, like me, presently in a single situation, of course! But then again, women who are weight-concious might read this and be adverse to the idea)

Released 5 April 2006
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.
Women eat more unhealthy foods and tend to put on weight when they move in with a male partner, according to a new report by the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

On the other hand, a man's diet tends to become healthier when he starts cohabiting with a female partner - and her influence has a long-term positive impact.

The reason for the change in dietary habits, say experts, is that both partners try to please each other during the 'honeymoon period' at the start of a cohabiting relationship, by adjusting their routine to suit their partner and eating food that he or she likes.

However, women have the strongest long-term influence over the couple's diet and lifestyle, mainly because the majority of female partners still assume the traditional role of food shopper and cook....read the full news release.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wake Forest Physician Reports First Human Recipients of Laboratory-Grown Organs

According to this news release from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, transplant researchers have made a tremendous breakthrough in their quest to grow organs and tissues. Although this is only a small step towards ultimately growing organs and tissues for transplantation, it offers hope for the future.

For Immediate Release 04/03/2006
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The first human recipients of laboratory-grown organs were reported today by Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. In The Lancet, Atala describes long-term success in children and teenagers who received bladders grown from their own cells.

“This is one small step in our ability to go forward in replacing damaged tissues and organs,” said Atala, who is now working to grow 20 different tissues and organs, including blood vessels and hearts, in the laboratory.

The engineered bladders were grown from the patients’ own cells, so there is no risk of rejection. Scientists hope that laboratory-grown organs can one day help solve the shortage of donated organs available for transplantation. Atala reported that the bladders showed improved function over time -- with some patients being followed for more than seven years..read the full news release.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Prescription Drug Sales Top $600 Billion Globally

I was interested to see in a report at Forbes.com that worldwide prescription drug sales now top $600 billion annually, with Pfizer's chlosterol drug Lipitor at the top of the list for the 5th year in a row at $12.9 billion.. read the full report with links to a slide show of the top 10 best selling drugs.