Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today is my anniversary - 8 years post lung transplant

That's me in the ICU  just 3 days following my surgery on April 20, 2002. I can remember thinking about how I was going to "give back" but my body wasn't ready to respond just yet. (click image for larger photo)

And here I am 3 years later speaking to a Kiwanis Club meeting about organ and tissue donation. (click photo for larger image)

Last week I had the eight-year assessment of my lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital. I will be forever grateful and thankful to all those who made it possible for me to have a second chance at life. I was in end stage repiratory failure due to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis with little hope for the future. I say silent thanks each day for my donor and donor family, for my surgeon Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Dr. Lianne Singer and the entire lung transplant team and staff at Toronto General who were so wonderful to me. I'm also very thankful to the staff of Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario for promoting organ donation and coordinating with critical care staff and donor families in our hospitals.

Since my transplant, in addition to maintaining this blog, I have been an advocate for organ donation awareness and fund raising for lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital. Most of my activities are recorded in a photo journal at http://www.pbase.com/mshepp. I'm also on the Provincial Volunteer Committee for Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario.

My assessment went well and I can honestly say that life is better than I can remember it ever being. My health is great, my weight is perfect and I have more friends now than I could have ever imagined. When they say that an organ transplant is life-transforming there's no question about it, at least in my case.

I'm extremely happy to be alive even, considering that I was near death before my transplant and so incapacitated that I couldn't even bend over to tie my own shoes. And that was while I was on oxygen 24/7. Isn't life wonderful?

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
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

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