Double-lung transplant recipient Brandon Gibson, right, is on hand as the Toronto Automobile Dealership Association presents the Trillium Gift of Life Network with a new minivan. Joining the teen are, from left, TADA past president Dominic Mesiano, TADA president Paul Stern and Trillium CEO Dr. Frank Markel.
Photo: (Jack Boland, Sun Media)
A few years ago, Brandon Gibson laced up his skates at a rink in Scarborough's east end for what could have been his last game of hockey.
Born with cystic fibrosis, a disease that made it more difficult to breathe with each passing year, the youngster was playing in his West Hill house league team's playoff final when his lung collapsed and forced him to give up the game he loves.
But in November 2006, his life was spared thanks to a double lung transplant, and just three months later he was back on the ice.
"I owe my thanks to a wonderful family who, in their darkest hour, made a decision to save a life, my life," Brandon, 16, said yesterday at the Canadian International Autoshow.
The teen was on hand to see the Toronto Automobile Dealership Association hand over the keys to a new mini-van to the Trillium Gift of Life Network. The vehicle, the third donated by TADA since 2002, will be used to transport organ recovery teams in the GTA.
"I had never experienced what it was like to breathe normal, to run with my friends," Brandon said. "(But) everything changed when I received my transplant."
By the time Brandon was 12, his cystic fibrosis was so bad that he needed to carry an oxygen supply with him everywhere. He was put on the recipient list for donor lungs in September 2005.
After 14 months of waiting, Brandon finally got the call. He's one of the lucky ones.
TGLN, a not-for-profit government agency dedicated to promoting and co-ordinating organ and tissue donation across Ontario, reports someone dies every three days waiting for a transplant.
With a new-found appreciation for life, Brandon spends much of his free time helping TGLN encourage people to become organ donors.
"It's a great thing to do and you will save lives," he said.
TGLN says one organ and tissue donor can save up to eight lives and enhance as many as 75 others.
To learn about becoming a donor, visit http://www.giftoflife.on.ca.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves