Casey Pulham will be kayaking across Lake Erie next weekend from Ashtabula, Ohio to Port Burwell, Ontario in an effort to promote organ donation awareness in honor of his mother who received a double-lung transplant in 2000. The approximately 50 mile/84 km trip will start in Ashtabula Saturday, August 4, 2007 and take about 14 to 18 hours to complete.
Casey's Kayak is presently on display at the entrance to the Provincial Park in Port Burwell where you can sign the kayak in green (the color of organ donation). Already more than 100 signatures have been added. Donor cards are also available to pick up.
Kurt Penner, a double-lung transplant receipient (2002) and his wife Lila have already signed the kayak. Kurt and Lila plan to be on hand Sunday, August 5th when the kayak is expected to land in Port Burwell. Kurt says there's lots to do in Port Burewll, with beaches, shopping and special activities for the long weekend such as fireworks displays Sunday evening.
The beginning of the trip will start during Ontario's August long weekend in the American city of Ashtabula, Ohio August 4th and travel north for approximately 50 miles/84 kms to the town of Port Burwell, Ontario. A nearly identical trip was undertaken by Don Dimond in 1996, of which he paddled for 18 hours before reaching the Canadian shore at Port Stanley, to the west of Port Burwell.
The route chosen will travel over the same waters that the coal ferry "Ashtabula" piled for 52 years from 1906 to 1958. Bringing fresh Pennslyvania coal to the north shore of the lake, until a navigational error put the coal ferry to the soft bottom of her harbor on the south side of the lake.
For many years, Casey's mother, Jackie, had been suffering health ailments associated with her failing lungs. After years of smoking, bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia had all taken their toll before chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) emphysema set in.
In September 1999, she was placed on a waiting list for a potential lung transplant. At that time her lungs were only functioning at only 50% of their capacity. Extensive physical therapy was began immediately to prepare her body for the rigors of major surgery that the operation would require.
Then in August 2000, a call came to notify her that a suitable donor lung had been located. A person that she had never met; a person that had taken the time to discuss with their loved ones about their wish to give to gift of life to others upon their passing. Jackie was rushed off to University Hospital in London, Ontario and then directly to the operating room. At that point, the 8 hour operation began.
Having gone through the operation, she went to the Intensive Care Unit to begin the path of recovery. After spending several days in ICU she was then moved to the Multi-Organ Transplant Unit where her strength and spirit began to return.
Finally, after nearly a month in the hospital, she returned home to continue her recovery. Now some 7 years later, she, although still taking anti-rejection medication, has completely recovered and her quality of life is exceptional. All thanks to the gift of life she recived from someone she never met.
"I am indebted to all those who have taken their time and talked with their loved ones about a subject that is difficult at the best of times. Thank you to all those that have signed their Organ Donor cards. Casey."
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”