Friday, December 31, 2004

Mini Marts Mock Organ Donation

NOTE: Jan 14/04 - The poster in question has now been removed, not because of public pressure, but because the promotion ended. The Canadian Transplant Association no longer has the photos on their web site. Merv.
Macs Milk and Becker's (Divisions of Couche-tard) two well known chains that have Mini Marts in many location in Canada and the US, have launched an advertising campaign using 'Human Organ Transport' as their theme. It is not in good taste by any means; if anything it makes a mockery out of the process of organ donation. For photos of these posters and links for registering a protest or complaint please go to : Canadian Transplant Association

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Lynne & Peter Laurence's Holiday Party 2004

Photo Gallery for this article: Laurence Party

Peter Laurence suffered with cystic fibrosis for a long time and finally had a double lung transplant in July, 2001. Since that time he and his wife Lynne have been very active in reaching out and "giving back" to the transplant community. They tell me this "Christmas Party" at their home in Mississauga, Ontario December 5th was the "first annual". Let's hope so.

Quite a few lung transplant patients were in attendance along with many of their spouses, support persons, friends and relatives.

Peter shot quite a few photos with his new digital camera and I've posted them to my photo gallery at: Laurence Party

Monday, December 20, 2004

Transplant Raffle Winners

Photo Gallery for this article: Transplant Raffle

Andrea Blackler, Manager of Community Relations for the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, asked me to convey the foundation's heartfelt thanks to everyone that supported the raffle by either purchasing or selling tickets. We know that you worked hard to promote the event and I also wish to add my huge thanks to those who purchased tickets from me and helped to sell tickets. You are true "Friends of The Foundation".

The draw took place November 30th in the 12th floor clinic area and approximately $12,000 was raised for the transplant program at Toronto General Hospital. A very special thanks goes to Patricia Wood for making the whole fundraiser possible with her generous donation of the beautiful quilt created and appliqued by her own hand, and to our other prize contributors as noted below.

The four winners were:
1st Prize - QUILT = Mona Wasserman
2nd Prize - Black Leather CHAIR from Harkel Office Furniture Ltd. = Frank Sullivan
3rd Prize - Sheraton HOTEL (2 nights for 2 people) = Mary Morton (from Kitchener, Ontario)
4th Prize - CIVELLO salon & spa "Beauty & The Body Gift Certificate" = Angela Maxwell

Photos of the quilt, raffle committee and the draw itself are at:
Transplant Raffle

Special thanks to Kim Cassar for the photos of the draw.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Toronto Auto Dealers Christmas Party

Photo Gallery for this article: Auto Dealers

Trillium Gift of Life Network sponsored a table at The Toronto Auto Dealers Association (TADA) annual Christmas luncheon December 10th and I was very fortunate to be invitied to this upscale event featuring a concert by the famous Canadian country singer Michelle Wright. She is truly a superstar, having been voted top female artist of the year in 2000 by the Canadian Country Music Association.
TADA has a special relationship with Trillium, having donated a van for the transporting of donated organs for transplant.
Photo Gallery: Auto Dealers

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Biplane Angiography

Photo Gallery for this article: UHN Campaign

In my talks about funding for the transplant program at Toronto General Hospital I've been bragging about our status as a world-class transplantation institution. But that's only one of many areas the University Health Network has international recognition for.

On November 10, 2004 following a University Health Network (UHN) Campaign meeting, Dr. Karel G. TerBrugge gave our group a tour of the new Biplane Angiography Suite at the Toronto Western Hospital.

Dr. TerBrugge is Chief of neuroradiology at Toronto Western. He is an interventional neuroradiologist specializing in the treatment of patients with brain vascular disorders, especially brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, and acute stroke. He is internationally recognized in his specialty, and a co-founder of the The Toronto Brain Vascular Malformation Study Group . He is a professor at the University of Toronto. He teaches and supervises medical students, residents and clinical fellows.

Dr. TerBrugge explained that the biplane system takes very detailed and clear X-ray pictures. By watching these images, physicians can thread extremely fine catheters through blood vessels that lead directly to problem areas of the brain. Once there they can seal off aneurysms, destroy clots, choke off the blood supply to tumors and open up clogged arteries with stents——all without surgery.

Blood vessels can be viewed from two different angles at the same time with the biplane system. The old imaging equipment gave a view of the brain in only one plane, making it difficult to navigate some arteries or enter some aneurysms or branch vessels.

This new system offers three-dimensional rotational angiography. After dye is shot into a blood vessel, the machine spins on a 180-degree axis, giving three-dimensional information about an aneurysm. See the picture on the monitor behind Dr. TerBrugge in this photo:

For a panoramic view of the Biplane Angiography Suite:Angiography Suite

Now, a patient with a ruptured aneurysm can go directly to the operating room, have a diagnostic arteriorgram performed, and a decision can be made immediately on an open surgery or endovascular procedure.

The biplane systems gives the University Health Network here in Toronto a world class, state-of-the-art facility for treating interventional vascular disorders. But it does not come cheap. Dr. TerBrugge showed us one of the stents used to open clogged arteries. To me it looked like a small plastic cap such as one would find at the end of a tiny squeeze bottle. But looks are deceiving because those little stents cost $4000 each. Wow!

The more I see of the wonderful accomplishments and initiatives UHN is taking to push the envelope in achieving excellence in research and education the more motivated I am to help achieve our campaign funding goals.

For more photos go to: UHN Campaign No comments:

UHN Campaign

Photo Gallery for this article: UHN Campaign

As a Team Volunteer, Transplantation, I attended the Campaign Cabinet Meeting at Toronto Western Hospital on the evening of November 10th. Along with Tennys Hanson, President and CEO of the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, I was pleased to speak on behalf of our Transplantation fund raising activities.

Tennys announced that on November 2nd a large conference room on the 11th floor of the Transplant Centre was officially named the Fujisawa Canada Conference room in recognition of their commitment of $1.4 million towards transplant research. I reported on the succes of our Birthday Ball, a gala event November 3rd which raised an estimated $140,000 in support of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program. I also noted that the draw for the raffle in support of the Transplant Fund for Excellence will be held on November 30th.

Other campaign team reports included Diabetes, Heart & Circulation/Minimally Invasive Surgery, Neural & Sensory Sciences, Breast & Gynaecological Cancer, Brain Cancer, Head & Neck Cancer, Gastrointestinal & Genitourinary Cancer & the Prostate Centre, Leukemia, Lumphoma & Myeloma and Lung Cancer.

Bryce Douglas, Campaign Chair, reported that the campaign has been very successful and we are well on our way to achieving our goal, with $344,249,883 raised to the end of September, 2004.

A highlight of the evening was a tour of the biplane angiography suites at Toronto Western Hospital. Dr. Karel G. TerBrugge conducted the fascinating and informative tour and I have covered this in a separate post.

I have published a few photos to my gallery with captions and comments for you to browse and enjoy: UHN Campaign

Merv Sheppard.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

And What a Birthday Celebration it Was

Photo Gallery for this article: Birthday Ball

Last Wednesday, November 3rd, almost 600 were in attendance for the first annual Birthday Ball fund raiser to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the Toronto General Hospital's new multi-organ transplant center. It was also a celebration of the very special birthdays of all our transplant patients; marking the anniversaries of our second chance in life.

The gala was a stunning success and moneys raised will help the Transplant Centre maintain it's status as a world model in the delivery of patient care, the education of transplant health professionals and transplant research.

The Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto buzzed with excitement and guests included a literal "who's who" from the world of organ and tissue transplantation. During the day about 270 transplant scientists and physicians from around the world attended a medical symposium sponsored by our Transplant Centre and many were present at the Ball.

Included was Dr. Joel Cooper, who performed the very first successful lung transplant in the world on November 7, 1983 while he was director of the Lung Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital. Dr. Cooper is now located in St. Louis, MO but his ties to Toronto are very, very strong. My number one hero Dr. Shaf Keshavjee was there and I had a chance to talk to him. He is head of the Lung Transplant Program at the hospital and he rescued me from death with my "Gift of Life" single-lung transplant April 20, 2002.

It was a very special evening for transplant recipients. There were donor families present; representatives of the Trillium Gift of Life Network, Ontario's Organ and Tissue Donation program; transplant physicians and their transplant teams, and other support staff. Patients had a chance to chat with the doctors and staff and likewise it was, as many of the staff told me, wonderful to see their patients so full of life and doing the normal things that people do.

Many people were responsible for the evening's success, including Dr. Gary Levy, Medical Director of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program; the staff at the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation; the Birthday Ball committee and all the volunteers, many of them organ transplant recipients. And it goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without our many sponsors, companies and individuals who gave their support.

I was able to capture a few photos and have published them to my gallery with captions and comments for you to browse and enjoy.
Birthday Ball

Merv Sheppard.
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Saturday, October 23, 2004

A Farewell to Gary Pollard

Photo Gallery for this post: Gary's Farewell

Having been retired for 5 years from Wyeth Canada I was very pleased to receive an invitation to a farewell party October 21, 2004 for Gary Pollard, one of my former bosses and a 35 year employee of Wyeth. Many of the guests were Wyeth people I hadn't seen since I retired and before my lung transplant.It was like old-home week for me because many of the nicest people I have ever met were at the party. I got some great photos and you can see them at Gary's Farewell

I also got to know Jim Connolly, Wyeth Canada President and Managing Director, who sat with me at dinner. He was very interested in my lung transplant and we discussed the various Wyeth drugs that support transplantation. I am proud that Wyeth has been a good supporter of the transplant program at Toronto General Hospital and are a sponsor of the Birthday Ball coming up this November 3rd.

Wyeth selected a very special restaurant, La Reserve in Markham, Ontario, for Gary's friends and colleagues to honor him and Marnie. For me, this was one of the most delicious and enjoyable meals I have ever had and a very fitting venue to say farewell to a couple of the nicest people one could ever meet. I also want to thank Sandy Trelford for inviting me and the wonderful job she did in organizing this event. Merv.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004


“Celebrating the 1st anniversary of the Toronto General Hospital’s
Transplant Center and the very special birthdays of all our transplant patients; marking the anniversaries of their second chance in life”

Two and a half years ago—April 19, 2001—I had one foot in the grave and was staring death in the face, dying from end stage respiratory failure due to pulmonary fibrosis. I was on oxygen 24/7. Then a miracle happened. In the early hours of the next morning, at exactly 2AM on April 20th, I received a phone call from the Trillium Gift of Life Network coordinator telling me that they had new lungs for me.

Following a medical symposium during the day, The Toronto General Hospital Transplant Centre Birthday Ball will be held at the Liberty Grand in Toronto to raise funds which will help the Transplant Centre become a world model in the delivery of patient care, the education of transplant health professionals and transplant research. Individual dinner tickets are $250 each or $2,500 for a table of 10. There are also sponsorship opportunities and an opportunity to donate a gift for the silent auction. If you are or your company are interested in purchasing dinner tickets, or receiving more information about sponsorship opportunities or donating to the silent auction, please contact Melanie Litwin at 416.340.4800 ext 6895 or email Melanie at
Cocktails: 6:30pm Dinner 7:30pm—Cocktail Attire—Silent Auction—Raffle— live entertainment and Hosted by Andy Barrie.
Guest speaker: Dr. Calvin Stiller, Chairman and CEO, Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund.

Purchase tickets online: Tickets


Dave Dunlop (waiting for a double lung transplant) has purchased tickets to the Birthday Ball and is trying to arrange for all lung-transplant patients, supports, friends and families to sit at the same tables. If you like this idea, once you have purchased tickets let me know at and I will coordinate things with Dave. Merv.

Friday, October 15, 2004

A Very Special Appreciation Breakfast

Photo Gallery for this post: Trillium Breakfast

Several Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Network staff and I spent this morning with about 30 or 40 hospital staff who are involved with Organ and Tissue Donation at the Trillium Health Centre, Mississauga Site, Missisauga, Ontario, Canada. This was an appreciation breakfast sponsored by Trillium Gift of Life Network.

It was an emotional time for me as I told the audience the story of my lung transplant and how thankful and grateful I was for the wonderful work they and others like them do. They rarely get to see an organ transplant recipient or receive recognition for their efforts. Mainly they only see the donor side of things, which can be heart-wrenching at times when dealing with families and their loved-ones who are potential organ donors.

I've been speaking about Organ Donation Awareness for the Trillium Gift of Life Network for about six months now and it was a great pleasure for me to finally meet some of the people that give the leadership and guidance for Organ Donation Awareness in Ontario.

I met Sue Wilson, President and CEO, Angela Diano, Community Relations Coordinator, Ida Bevilacqua, In-Hospital Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinator and Fides Coloma, Director for Central and Northern Ontario. I met Fides last spring and it was nice to see her again. Plus I had a wonderful time speaking with many of the attendees.

What really impressed me today was that almost everyone involved would have crawled out of their beds extremely early this morning because the breakfast meeting started at 7:30am. Robin Zander, an Emergency Room nurse, drove about 80 miles to be at the meeting on her day off. I also met several others who came to the event on their day off.

I managed to get a few good shots for my photo gallery. You can view these at:
Trillium Breakfast

All in all, this was one of my better days because I felt I had really done something worthwile this morning. Merv.
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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Birthday Ball November 3, 2004

Photo Gallery for this post: Birthday Ball

After attending yesterday's meeting of the planning committe for the Toronto General Hospital's "Birthday Ball" I was so impressed with the progress the committe has made since our first meeting in July, I can't help but think that our event will be very, very successful. It looks like we could have 600 or more attending November 3rd, for a wonderful gala evening. You can see who the committee members are by going to Birthday Ball

The Ball is to "celebrate the first anniversary of the Toronto General Hospital's Transplant Center and the very special birthdays of all our transplant recipients; marking the anniversaries of their second chance at life".

Cocktails: 6:30pm Dinner 7:30pm—Cocktail Attire—Silent Auction—Raffle— live entertainment and Hosted by Andy Barrie. Guest speaker is Dr. Calvin Stiller, Chairman and CEO, Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund.

Following a medical symposium during the day, The Toronto General Hospital Transplant Center Birthday Ball will be held at the Liberty Grand in Toronto to raise funds which will help the Transplant Center maintain it's status a world model in the delivery of patient care, the education of transplant health professionals and transplant research.

Individual dinner tickets are $250 each or $2,500 for a table of 10. There are also sponsorship opportunities and an opportunity to donate a gift for the silent auction.

If you are or your company are interested in purchasing dinner tickets, or receiving more information about sponsorship opportunities or donating to the silent auction, please contact Melanie Litwin at 416.340.4800 ext 6895 or email Melanie at email Melanie> Purchase tickets online:TGWHF

See you there? Merv
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Friday, October 08, 2004


This is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and we have so much to be thankful for. I guess we all have our own reasons to be thankful, such as the life we enjoy and the country we are privileged to live in. But as someone who has been rescued from death by a life-saving organ transplant, my reasons to be thankful are many and profound.

On a Saturday morning, April 20, 2002, I was given the Gift of Life by receiving a single-left lung transplant. I will be forever thankful to my surgeon, Dr. Shaf Keshavjee and his wonderful team at the Toronto General Hospital. I will be forever thankful and grateful to my donor and my donor's family who made the courageous decision to give me the Gift of Life. I've never met them and do not know who they are, but they will remain in my heart forever.

I'm also thankful to the nurses and other support staff at Toronto General Hospital who cared for me and made me feel that I was important to them and part of the hospital family. I managed to get quite a few photos while I was in recovery and plan to do a major article about my transplant which I will post here soon.

Oh God, am I ever thankful to so many other people; my family, friends and relatives who supported me and prayed for me during my ordeal and continue to do so; those who called and sent cards, gifts and letters and who still call to ask how I'm doing; my family physician, Dr. Rob Williams who diagnosed me with having end-stage Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and got me plugged into the health care system for immediate attention; Dr. Gerry Cox, my Pulmonary Specialist who confirmed the diagnosis and got me an interview with Dr. Lianne Singer, Lung-Transplant Pulmonary Specialist at Toronto General Hospital, who initiated the process to get me on the waiting list for a transplant.

I'm also very thankful to the Trillium Gift Of Life Network, The Canadian Transplant Association and all those groups and people who have been so actively promoting organ donation awareness. It hurts and saddens me to no end when I see people die while on the waiting list for a transplant.

I am thankful and grateful to be blessed with all the new friends and acquaintances I've made in the transplant, medical and hospital communities and some of these friends have become very close and an important part of my life.

So, when we have the family over for the traditional turkey dinner this weekend, I can truly say that I have much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Merv.

P.S.—Do you have a Thanksgiving message that you would like to see posted here?
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Monday, October 04, 2004

A Grand Dinner On The Grand

Photo galleries for this post:
Dinner Cruise

Friday evening, October 1st, 2004 a group of lung transplant recipients and their spouses met at Grand River Cruises in Caledonia, Ontario, Canada for what turned out to be a very enjoyable and memorable dinner cruise along the beautiful Grand River, the largest river in the province of Ontario. Lung transplant recipients are kindred spirits and a good time was had by all as you will see by the photos.

I highly recommend Grand River Cruises for an enjoyable evening. They are now closed for the season but you may want to bookmark their URL:

Monday, September 27, 2004

Organ Donation Awareness

It was very gratifying to see extensive coverage on the state of organ donation and transplantation in Ontario this past week. I am pleased to be a volunteer speaker for the Trillium Gift of Life Network in Ontario and was very happy to play a role in spreading the word about organ donation by making presentations to the Rotary Sunrise Club in Cambridge and the Probus Club in Waterdown, as you can see by the photos. For larger and more photos browse at Organ Donation Events
Example, ,

The Toronto Star and several of it's affiliate newspapers such as the Hamilton Spectator and Kitchener Record gave very extensive coverage. As a matter of fact, it's the most coverage I've ever seen at one time and these papers should be commended for their wonderful support.

This past Saturday there must have been six or seven pages devoted to transplants. Dr. Gary Levy, Director of the Transplantation Program at University Health Network and University of Toronto, was interviewed and given a very prominent half-page color photo of him in the operating room ready for surgery. This immediately caught the readers' eyes and drew attention to the articles.

But, after all is said and done, the sad state of affairs is that organ donation in Canada is very, very low compared to the rest of the world.

Here's the hard, cold facts: The organ donor rate in Ontario at the end of 2003 was 12.3 donors per million people with Canada as a whole not much better at 13.5 donors per million people. The one bright spot is London, Ontario which has a rate of 25.6 donors per million people.

Many U.S. centers have donor rates much higher than Ontario's and the U.S. as a country has a rate of 21.5. In Spain, Austria and Belgium, where consent to donate organs is presumed unless an opt-out clause is exercised, rates are from a low of 21.65 per million donation rate in Belgium to a high of 33.68 in Spain.

We can all do our part to help increase the rate of organ donation. One donor can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty different recipients.

Organs and tissues that can be donated include the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, small bowel, stomach, whole eyes or corneas, heart valves, bone and soft musculoskeletal tissue, such as ligaments; cardiovascular tissue, which includes the thoracic aorta, the abdominal aorta with iliac arteries, saphenous veins and femoral vessels; and skin.

Once your have made the decision to give the greatest gift one can give to another human being, the Gift of Life, sign your donor card and tell your loved ones so they can understand and respect your wishes in the future.

Ontario is now starting to make great strides in promoting Organ Donation Awareness since the establishment of the Trillium Gift of Life Network under the Trillium Gift of Life Act passed by the Ontario Government in late 2000.

As a lung transplant recipient, it was easy for me to tell my story and also to say how grateful I am and will always be for the courageous decision my donor and their family made to give me the gift of life.

The Probus club members I spoke to last week are mainly retired Rotarians and they were surprised to learn that older citizens can be both donor candidates and transplant recipients and that they certainly should sign their donor cards and let their families know their wishes.

The oldest organ donor on record was 92 and the oldest tissue donor was 102 years old. This past March, in Omaha, Nebraska, 85 year old Henry Wendt received a kidney from his daughter Karen Beckley, which made him the oldest American to receive an organ transplant from a living donor.

To get your donor card contact: Trillium Gift of Life Network, 155 University Ave., Suite 1440, Toronto, Ont. M5H 3B7 1-800-263-2833 or go to

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Jeannie Haines - Retirement Reception
Sponsored by the Lung Transplant Support Group

The conference room was jam packed yesterday as lung transplant recipients, their spouses and support people, along with many friends and hospital staff, gathered to honor Jeannie Haines, Psychiatric Nurse for the Lung Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

There was so much love in the room for Jeannie that I can still feel it now. I never had an opportunity to interact with Jeannie other than socially at a few meetings or when I ran into her in passing at the hospital, so I did not know the depth of love, feeling and emotion that people had for Jeannie until I heard some of their tributes. I knew something special was happening when so many people showed up. Some even drove more than 100 miles to be there.

I was very fortunate in that I was only on the waiting list for 25 days before receiving my single left-lung transplant in April of 2002. My operation was very smooth and I was discharged in a little over two weeks. However, others did not have it so easy. I talked with one person yesterday who has been on the waiting list for two years without getting that life-saving call. Some transplant recipients I have known remained in the hospital for months or a year post transplant, with uncertainty about the final outcome. Others on the waiting list expired before receiving a transplant because an organ donor was not found in time.

These can be very, very stressful times. Jeannie has always been there to give comfort and support, to listen, to give advice and to be available at all times. When one is diagnosed with a fatal lung disease and told they will soon die without a lung transplant, it is devastating; not only for the patient but for their family and friends as well. Mostly patients are told it's only a matter of a year or two and not much more than that.

Jeannie Haines has always been there as someone to turn to for a comforting and reassuring voice, not only for the patient but for their families and loved ones.

Jeannie has gone out of her way to visit patients in their hospital rooms, after her own working hours on numerous occations, and called them or their supports at home just to see how they were doing and to be there for them. She has helped so many patients and their support people it would probably take many pages to list them all.

But I did manage to take quite a few pictures at the reception and hopefully they will give you an idea of the love I'm talking about. I intend to re-name or caption the photos to identify everyone over the next few days but meanwhile you can browse to "Jeannie" at

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A New Beginning

Today marks the birth of my blog (short for web log or continuously updated web site). Hopefully, it will prove to be a successful resource for Organ Donation Awareness and Transplant Research Funding. I was rescued from death by receiving a single-lung transplant in April, 2002. Organ donation and transplant research are why I am alive today and I intend to be an advocate for both until the day I die.

The full story of my transplant at Toronto General Hospital in Toronto, Canada will be posted soon.

This will be a forum where people can ask questions, post comments, get answers to their problems and exchange information and ideas. News will be posted as it occurs and readers are encouraged to submit items of interest, web sites, coming events and any thing else you feel is appropriate.

I will be posting numerous links over the next few days so stay tuned.

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