I had an opportunity to chat with Dr. Todd a few months ago at Toronto General Hospital when he autographed my copy of his book (see below). Because of his pioneering efforts in lung transplantation, along with his colleagues such as Dr. Joel Cooper, I am alive today. So I have a special interest in Dr. Todd and am pleased to post news about his life and times. I highly recommend his book for anyone wanting to know more about those early days of lung transplants as well as detailed descriptions of the transplant process.
From The Daily Observer in Ontario, Canada:
While Dr. Todd is best known as one of the surgeons involved in the first successful lung transplant in the world performed at Toronto General Hospital in November 1983, he is also known as the doctor who loved riding shotgun in police cars with lights and siren blasting, weaving through traffic in a desperate race to get the precious cargo of transplantable human organs to the operating room on time.
Now semi-retired, Dr. Todd has written a book titled Breathless: A Transplant Surgeon's Journal. As the title suggests, the book is about his decades-long career as a transplant surgeon.
Louise Edmonds, a professor in the nursing program at Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley, helped bring Dr. Todd to the city where he took part in a luncheon and book-signing at Wesley United Church, a lecture to bachelor of science nursing students at Algonquin College and a reception with the local medical community at the Pembroke Regional Hospital.
"I was really thrilled when Dr. Todd said he would come to Pembroke and speak," said Ms. Edmonds. "I read an article in the (newspaper) about him when his book was first published and found out he was from Almonte. I thought, that's not very far away, so I just called him up and asked if he would speak to our BScN students up here and he said 'yes' right away," she said.
At book signings held both after his public noon-hour speech and his address at the college, Dr. Todd donated $8 from every book sold to a bursary for a local nursing student.
Paul Petrokov is a first year nursing student at the college who formally thanked Dr. Todd for visiting the city and the college. The moment was a special one for Mr. Petrokov, as he has a medical tie to Dr. Todd.
"I had lung surgery at Toronto General in 2000 where Dr. Todd practiced. My surgery was done by Dr. Todd's colleague. In fact, my personal experience from my surgery is what prompted me to enter the field of medicine," Mr. Petrokov said.
Jane Hebert, administrative assistant with community and student affairs department at the college, said the education institution was proud to host such a distinguished figure.
"Whenever we have the opportunity to have an expert in their field talk, we like to share that opportunity with the community. Getting a doctor of his calibre to come to Pembroke is simply wonderful," Ms. Hebert said.
Dr. Todd's list of accomplishments is truly impressive.
He, along with a team of specialists at Toronto General, performed the first successful lung transplant in the world in 1983. In 1986 he followed that up with the world's first successful double lung transplant.
Dr. Todd remarked that by 1989, 22 lung transplants had been performed at the hospital. Over the years, that total continued to climb except for a blip in the mid-90's when a lack of funding support hurt the program.
In 2007, 100 transplants were performed.
Laurentian Valley resident Esther Gaudet worked as an intensive care nurse at Toronto General Hospital from 1979 until 1989. She did post-operative care on many of the transplant patients while they were in ICU.
"Working with Dr. Todd and the team of transplant surgeons was very exciting but difficult and stressful work, since the patients were so very ill and the techniques sometimes untried. Seeing Dr. Todd and hearing his talk today brought back many great memories. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to hear him speak," Ms. Gaudet said.
Dr. Todd also told the group of about 75 people that attended the luncheon, that recovery times for transplant patients has dropped dramatically over the years while anti-rejection drugs have greatly improved. Where once transplant patients were in the ICU for weeks, today it is often only a couple of days.
In his lecture at the college, Dr. Todd addressed the issue of medical ethics, particularly as it relates to the factors that go into wait list criteria for organ transplants.
Ms. Edmonds remarked that not one student left during the session and Dr. Todd stayed and talked an extra half-hour above his scheduled two-hour block. Following that, Dr. Todd remained at the college to sign copies of his book before heading over to the hospital reception.
"He was so very generous with his time to Pembroke. He was wonderful. The students were very impressed with his compassion and how well he knew each patient that he had worked with. He was so committed to them. His duty of care is very strong," Ms. Edmonds said.
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