Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting a second chance at life; Organ donations on the rise in Barrie, Ontario area

Linda Rumble, left, has had three family members donate organs following their death. Cindy Quinn, right, is a living reminder that tissue and organ donation works, as she is celebrating nearly one year with her new heart. Photo: J.T. Mcveigh

From The Barrie Examiner in Ontario, Canada:

Posted By BY NICKI CRUICKSHANK, The Barrie Examiner

Cindy Quinn got some heart-breaking news two years ago when doctors told her that her heart condition could end her life.

But receiving a healthy heart from an organ donor was a life-saver for her 10 months ago.

"I wasn't told anything about my donor, but whoever it was, I'm so grateful to them," the 28-year-old Alcona resident said. "Without their donation, I wouldn't be alive today."

Quinn and members of the Trillium Gift of Life Network were on hand during an event surrounding national organ and tissue donation awareness week at Royal Victoria Hospital, yesterday.

Quinn is no stranger to hospitals, tests and living with the effects of her heart condition. But those effects became too much for her about two years ago, and her survival depended on someone else's ticker, and an organ donation ended up changing her life.

"I was diagnosed with a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy when I was two years old, and I've been in and out of hospitals all my life," Quinn said. "My parents actually told me about my condition at age 13, and then in November of 2006 I started getting really exhausted and passing out.

"A doctor in Toronto put me on a defibrillator, but it didn't help," she added. "I progressively got worse, and soon I couldn't even walk anymore."

Thoughts of dying often clouded her mind and disturbed her sleep.

"I'd lie awake at night and think, 'I can't go to sleep because I won't wake up again,'" Quinn said. "It was very scary for me. I was put on a donor list in April 2007, but was told not to get my hopes up in case a heart wasn't available.

"Then, a month later, I got a call with the good news," she added. "The surgery went well, only four hours long, and after three days I was up and walking around. Now, I feel like myself again."

Quinn's case isn't unique in Ontario and Simcoe County, with more people needing organ/tissue transplants each year. But with growing awareness of organ donations, more people are opting to donate to save another's life.

"The culture is definitely shifting so people are more aware of organ donation," said Cathy Ritter, RVH's organ/tissue donation co-ordinator. "Numbers are up, and we had 200 organ/tissue donations in 2007. That's up from 150 in 2005.

"At RVH, we've had three organ donors in this fiscal year and over 100 tissue donors," Ritter added. "The hospital started doing recovery surgery for organs and tissue back in 2005."

"Slowly and steadily, donations have improved and continue to improve," said Linda Rumble, a Trillium volunteer. "I've seen so many organ recipients express their gratitude for getting an organ and their life back."

Quinn said her donated heart was her second chance to live, and though it's technically someone else's heart, she's thankful to have it.

"It was hard on me at first, thinking 'This is someone's heart, and they had to die for me to get it,'" Quinn said. "But now I have a whole new appreciation for life and I live every day like it's my last."

Rumble said she plans to donate her organs and tissues when she passes on, and hopes to instill that feeling of renewed life to her recipients.

"It's a wonderful feeling for me to be able to donate them," Rumble said. "I bet there won't be a day that goes by that my organ recipients won't thank me for the organ they got from me."

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance another 50 through tissue donation

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