Request from family of St. Catharines man paved way for donated kidneys, valve and eyes
KITCHENER (Mar 9, 2007)
by Anne Kelly
Grand River Hospital is the first community hospital in Canada where organs have been retrieved from someone after cardiac death, rather than traditional brain death.
A year-old initiative of the Trillium Gift of Life Network, and a request by the family of the patient, Michael Irving of St. Catharines, paved the way for his kidneys, heart valve and eyes to be donated Jan. 25, Irving's mother Laura said in a phone interview.
To protect the confidentiality of the donor and recipient, Grand River and Trillium have not previously spoken about the retrieval.
Laura Irving said her 30-year-old son, a diabetic, fell ill and collapsed unexpectedly at home on Jan. 22. He was rushed to St. Catharines General Hospital, where he placed on life support.
He was transferred to Grand River because it was the nearest hospital with a critical-care unit capable of handling complex cases like his.
Tests at Grand River determined he had suffered an arterial stroke, which damaged his brain stem and cortex, Laura said. "There was absolutely no hope for recovery. I'm a firm believer if there's no hope, that's it. Why prolong the suffering?"
In December 2005, the Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation supported proceeding with organ donation after cardiac death.
For the past 20 years, people dying from cardiac death were eligible to be tissue donors only.
Organ donation after cardiac death was launched in the United States, about four years ago. Trillium adopted the new initiative in March 2006, as part of plan to increase organ donations.
Since last June there have been 10 such donations in Ontario, the first eight at teaching hospitals.
The head of Trillium praised Grand River for breaking new ground.
"I think it's a tremendous accomplishment and something that the hospital and community should be very proud of," said Frank Markel, president of Trillium.
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