Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ottawa, Canada teen is waiting for new lungs

Family urges public to register as organ donors

By Alex Weber Ottawa Citizen

Fourteen months.

That's how long Thomas Quinet has been waiting for his third set of lungs.

The 14-year-old Ottawa teenager was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and pancreas making it difficult to breathe and digest food.

He had his first double lung transplant in 2007. It went well, and, according to his father Marc, Thomas was able to enjoy two-and-a-half years of normal life.

He could walk, run, play sports, all the things boys his age normally did. In fact, months after his operation Thomas competed in the Canadian Transplant Games, bringing home a gold medal in badminton and a bronze in five-pin bowling.

"He really made the most of that, and that in fact has been the hardest part I think, with the exception of where he's at right now, that taste of the good life and how it has been taken away from him," Marc Quinet said.

By late 2009, though, Thomas wasn't responding well to treatments and his body began rejecting his new lungs, something that happens in 50 per cent of transplant cases.

When their doctor suggested a second double lung transplant in January 2010, Marc, Thomas and his mother Suzanne Camu were shocked. "It was a tough pill to swallow," Marc said. Thomas, who was 13 at the time, wanted to explore other options, so the family went to Alberta to get a second opinion, but the verdict was the same.

On June 15, 2010, Thomas's name joined 1,556 others on a list to receive transplants and the family moved from their home in Ottawa to a temporary apartment near Toronto's SickKids Hospital, where Thomas was receiving treatment.

Over the next eight months, Thomas tried to live a normal life. Four months ago, though, he took a drastic turn for the worse.

On Aug. 7, he was hooked up to a novolung, a ventilator to help him breathe. Since the technology is so new and rarely used on children, Marc says doctors don't know how long the machine will keep him alive, but said it probably wouldn't be longer than a month.

Marc and his wife, Suzanne, are on a mission and are appealing to the public to help save their son's life. They're asking anyone who hasn't already done so to register as a potential organ donor, and anyone who has already signed up to donate is asked to spread the word.

Since Thomas's name was recently added to a North American-wide list for organs, his chances of receiving new lungs have improved.

"We're hoping," Marc said. "We've been through a lot, especially Tom, and people like Tom deserve help."

To become an organ donor in Ontario visit (see below for donor links in other areas)

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – Sign-up today!
to become an organ and tissue donor
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
United States,
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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