Saturday, May 28, 2005

Current Insights and New Opportunities for Smoking Cessation

Know someone who is trying to quit smoking? This might be helpful. Merv.

Assisting smokers to stop smoking is often seen as a difficult task but is crucial for health improvement, especially for those with established cardiovascular disease. Healthcare professionals are now, more than ever, in a position to help smokers who want to stop. For the greatest chance of success smokers should be referred to stop smoking services that provide multi-session treatment combining intensive behavioural support with nicotine replacement therapy or bupropion. Promising new medications are being developed that will add to the current treatment strategies and may give smokers a greater chance of stopping for good.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

New Kidney Function Test - Cystatin-C

Transplant recipients know the importance of creatinine levels as an indicator of kidney function. Now, investigators believe there may be an even better test, especially in the elderly, according to this press release.

May 18, 2005 - New Kidney Function Test Better than Standard at Predicting Death and Cardiovascular Outcomes.

Cystatin-C, a new blood test for kidney function, is a better predictor of death and cardiovascular risk among the elderly than the standard measure of kidney function, according to a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-funded study published in the May 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. This more sensitive test distinguishes those at low, medium and high cardiovascular risk, which may enable earlier detection.

Investigators for NHLBI’s Cardiovascular Health Study compared the two measures of kidney function, cystatin-C and the standard test creatinine, as predictors of death from all causes, death from cardiovascular causes, and incidence of heart attack and stroke among 4,637 elderly participants in the study.

The 20 percent of the participants with the highest levels of cystatin-C had twice the risk of death from all causes as well as death from cardiovascular disease, and a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack and stroke compared with those who had the lowest levels of cystatin-C. In contrast, testing the same participants with creatinine detected a smaller high-risk group—about 10 percent of the participants—and all others appeared to be at average risk.

With cystatin-C, investigators found that 60 percent had abnormal kidney function putting them at medium or high risk for cardiovascular complications.

It is estimated that 20 million Americans have significantly reduced kidney function, and that even a small loss of kidney function can double a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

"This study affirms the important link between kidney function and cardiovascular health and survival in the elderly. If these findings are confirmed in other studies, cystatin-C could be a useful prognostic tool for evaluating older people at risk for not only kidney disease, but cardiovascular disease as well,” said Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., NHLBI director.

NHLBI Communications Office
(301) 496-4236
Email NHLBI News

See full news release:
NIH/NHLBI News Release

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Transplant Open Golf June 9th - update

Are you planning to golf, attend the dinner or make a donation to the Transplant Open June 9th? If you've already registered to play or donated a gift we thank you very much for your contribution to this worthy cause. If you haven't already responded we would sure like to hear from you soon.

It promises to be an exciting day with some terrific prizes and silent auction gifts to be bid on. There will be a $10,000 hole-in-one prize and one of the items donated for the silent auction is a Skybox at Rogers Centre for Saturday, August 6th Yankees vs Blue Jays.

At dinner, Dr. Lianne Singer, Medical Director, Lung Transplantation, University Health Network, Toronto will be our guest speaker.

Thanks also to our wonderful hole sponsors. We have 13 holes already sponsored at $250 each and need your support to sponsor the remaining holes. You can sponsor as an individual, a company or as a group. For example, you could take up a collection from your team or group and help transplant research that way.

For full details and to sign-up or make a donation please click the following link:
Golf June 9,2005

Friday, May 20, 2005

Brandyn Miller's Passing

I received the following message today from Suzanne Miller, mother of Brandyn Miller who has been waiting for a heart and lung-transplant for several years. Brandyn never gave up hope of getting his "second chance" and Suzanne was always the epitome of a dedicated and devout Mother and support person for Brandyn. He will be missed by the many friends and acquaintances he made in the transplant community.
This photo was taken at the Annual Lung Transplant Picnic, July, 2003

Brandyn Miller

"Merv , I'm sure you have heard that Brandyn got his shot at having his dream come true, and got that long awaited transplant call. However, there seemed to be more complications than they had anticipated , he fought very hard, but just wore out. He was the focus of my life. I can't even imagine how much I will miss him. Please feel free to pass the word to anyone that cares to ask. Let them know that he went into his surgery with a huge grin and the total belief that he could survive anything and this was his chance for a new future.

Our best to all the current and future transplant recipients. Suzanne Miller"

Please join me in extending our deepest condolences and sympathy to Suzanne and family. I'm sure Suzanne would appreciate hearing from you:
Suzanne Miller

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

10 Year Old Gives Talk on Organ Donation

Susan Kershaw, wife of Herb Kershaw who recently received a lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital, submitted the following:

"Attached you will find a speech that my 10 year old niece Taylor did on organ donation. Not only did she win with an A+ for her class, she also won in representing her class in front of the whole school. She now goes to the regional speak off next Tuesday evening. Apparently, she had the judges crying!"

"I’m so damn proud of her as watching her uncle deteriorate affected her greatly and she was overjoyed that they found a donor for him. I had to share this with you.
Thanks, Susan."

"By this time tomorrow, 12 people in Canada who are alive right now will be dead, not because they were in a car accident, not becacuse they were sick in the hospital and not even because their time had come but simply because they could not get an organ transplant in time to save them.

I have chosen to speak to you today on a topic that is very important to me and a topic I think you should think about too, and that is organ donation.

Did you know that a simple thing like your signature on a donor card could mean life or death to some people??

I know death and dying is not something we like to think about at our age but because of my uncle Herb waiting for a lung transplant I have been thinking about it a lot.

There are both children and adults of all ages facing death everyday because an organ in their body is not working properly and without an organ transplant, they will die.

Scientist’s started to experiment with organ transplants in the 18th century and by the 20th century organ transplants became very successful.

The first successful kidney transplant happened in 1954. In 1968, the first heart transplant took place and in 1981, the first lung transplant was a big success.*

Every 27 minutes someone somewhere in the world receives an organ transplant, which sounds great,

But on the flip side, every 18 minutes a new name has to be added to the transplant list.

Would you believe that for every million people in canada there are only 15 donors?? I guess this is the reason that 12 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant!!

You might wonder what organs you can donate? The organs that can be used to save someone’s life are your lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, bowels and pancreas. these organs can not be stored for very long and need to be transplanted as soon as possible. Another type of donation is called tissue donation and this means that you can donate your skin, bones, eyes, heart valves and veins. tissue donations can be stored for up to a month.

If you cannot or do not want to be an organ donor then you might want to think about doing a whole body donation because this helps the medical students so they can learn how to be better doctors.

You are not going to need or use your organs when you die, so if you don’t donate them to someone who really needs them, then you are just wasting them. If you can save someone’s life, you will be a hero for doing this special thing.

Recently on March 29, a hero saved my uncle Herb’s life. He received a lung transplant, and this has given him a second chance to live a normal life. By being an organ donor, you get to live through someone else. Think about it and recycle yourself! Thank You."

*ed note:
Just to clarify, the world's first successful single-lung transplant was performed at Toronto General Hospital in 1983, followed by the first successful double-lung transplant in 1986. A heart & lung transplant was done in 1981 and in 1983, the first barrier to successful transplantations was overcome when cyclosporine was introduced. See the following links:
Heart & Lung Transplant
Toronto General Hospital Lung Transplant Program

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Golf for Transplant Research June 9/05

Thursday, June 9, 2005
Castlemore Golf & Country Club, Brampton, Ontario
Castlemore Web Site
(off Airport Road north of highway 7).
Registration: 12noon - Shotgun start at 1pm
Cost: Golf, Cart, Dinner & Putting Contest $175 per person
Cost: Dinner only: $60

$10,000.00 Hole-in-One

Special silent auction donation: Skybox at Rogers Centre, Saturday August 6th, Yankees vs Blue Jays

At dinner, Dr. Lianne Singer, Medical Director, Lung Transplantation, University Health Network, Toronto will be our guest speaker.

Register with Peter Laurence: email
7128 Upton Cr., Mississauga, ON L5N 7L6
(416) 471-1421 Fax (905) 814-5220
Visa, Master Card and Amex accepted.
Make cheques payable to Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation

We would very much appreciate your support and/or participation in this fund raising golf tournament and dinner to support Lung Transplant Research at Toronto General Hospital, in partnership with Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.

Toronto General Hospital is recognized as a world-class lung transplant center with some of the world’s leading research scientists and physicians. More lung transplants were performed here in 2004 (64) than any other institution world-wide.

Some of the projects they are currently working on are ways to prevent rejection, tissue regeneration, tolerance and making donor lungs useable that are presently not acceptable for transplant (only about 2 of every 5 donor lungs are now useable).

No one likes rejection, especially lung transplant recipients like Kim Cassar, Peter Laurence and I. We are very thankful for our “Gift of Life” and we are now advocates for transplant research funding and thus this tournament.

You can help support and participate in this golf tournament by:

• Organizing one or more golf foursomes.
• Sponsoring a hole for $250.
• If not able to golf, you can attend the dinner and silent auction.
• Donate prizes for the silent auction.
• Volunteer your time to help organize the golf tournament or sell raffle tickets.
• Make a financial contribution.

Contact for prizes and gifts: Kim Cassar email
(905) 812-3202 Cell (416) 258-7284

As lung transplant recipients we are proud to be part of this charitable event. Won’t you join us June 9th by participating in this golf tournament, dinner and fundraising event? The proceeds will truly improve the quality of life for patients waiting for a lung transplant and their families.


email me

Merv Sheppard
1-1198 Swan St
Ayr, ON N0B 1E0
Phone (519) 632-7940 Fax (519) 632-7940

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Google Scholar

I've added Google Scholar to my sidebar as a handy lookup for anyone searching for fast information on scholarly topics (see below). hope you will enjoy this feature. For example, I entered the name "Keshavjee" (Director of the Lung Transplant Program at University Health Network, Toronto) and got an immediate listing of 813 papers that Dr. Keshavjee's name was cited in as an investigater. Try it for yourself!

What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.

How does Google Scholar work?
Just as with Google Web Search, Google Scholar orders your search results by how relevant they are to your query, so the most useful references should appear at the top of the page. This relevance ranking takes into account the full text of each article as well as the article's author, the publication in which the article appeared and how often it has been cited in scholarly literature. Google Scholar also automatically analyzes and extracts citations and presents them as separate results, even if the documents they refer to are not online. This means your search results may include citations of older works and seminal articles that appear only in books or other offline publications.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Team for Transplant Launch & Lunch June 18/05

Team for Transplant Launch & Lunch at Ontario Place, Saturday, June 18, 2005 11AM to 2PM

Join Team for Transplant at Ontario Place for a day filled with family, friends and fun!

Team for Transplant is a community of individuals who understand the importance of giving back to the Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital (TGH) by raising funds and awareness. These patients and volunteers have had a transplant themselves or know someone who has.

Last November, over 400 guests attended the inaugural Birthday Ball: Celebrating Life Through Transplant Excellence, a fund raiser organized by the Team for Transplant which raised over $140,000 and marked the 15th anniversary of the Transplant Program and the first anniversary of TGH’s new Transplant Centre.

This year Team for Transplant is planning a “Launch & Lunch” event with a barbecue and entertainment on Saturday, June 18, 2005, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at Ontario Place. Team for Transplant sees this as an opportunity to meet with others who have had similar organ transplant experiences and a way for the transplant community to give back through supporting fundraising efforts. Funds raised at the “Launch & Lunch” will benefit the Team for Transplant Campaign for the Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital.

Volunteers to help with the event will be most welcome. Volunteers played a large role in the success of the Birthday Ball and your help will be very much appreciated at Ontario Place June 18th. To volunteer please contact Melanie Litwin at (416) 340-4800 ext. 6895 or email Melanie

Tickets are $25 per person and include a “Play All Day Pass” to Ontario Place.

BBQ, entertainment & festivities.
Ontario Place “Play All Day” pass (following Launch & Lunch - Value $30).
“Friend & Fund” raiser information

"The day is a great way to thank your personal support team and to get together with the larger Transplant community!"

For tickets please contact Melanie Litwin at Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, (416) 340-4800 ext. 6895 or on the web at: Team for Transplant

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Honor Donors & Their Families June 10/05

• TRILLIUM GIFT OF LIFE NETWORK MEMORIAL SERVICE, Friday, June 10, 2005 at 7:00 PM – St. Michael’s Cathedral, 65 Bond St., Toronto. A “Gift of Life Ceremony” Honoring Organ and Tissue Donors and Their Families . Mark your calendars and plan to attend this wonderful opportunity to show our thanks and gratitude to our donor families. For more inforation please go to: Trillium Gift of Life

Monday, May 09, 2005

Promising results from IPF study

Having IPF myself, I can remember how frustrated my pulmonary specialists were because they had nothing in their armamentarium they could use to slow down the progression of my disease. I'm happy to report this research news and I know this is only a study and government approval for a new drug is far, far away, however it does give a glimmer of hope for the future of patients suffering with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Merv.

InterMune (ticker: ITMN, exchange: NASDAQ Stock Exchange (.O)) News Release - 5/2/05

Promising Results From Phase II Study of Pirfenidone in IPF Patients

- Publication in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine - Favorable Treatment Effect Observed in IPF Patients Treated With Pirfenidone
BRISBANE, Calif., May 2, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- InterMune, Inc. (Nasdaq: ITMN) today announced that the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (AJRCCM) published results from a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II trial evaluating pirfenidone for the treatment of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). This 107- patient study with a planned 12-month treatment period was conducted in Japan by Shionogi & Co., LTD and was terminated after only nine months based on the recommendation of the Data Safety Monitoring Board following an interim analysis. This analysis suggested favorable effects of pirfenidone on acute exacerbations and other efficacy parameters, prompting the decision to stop the trial.

In the 9-months of treatment, acute exacerbations had occurred in 14% and 0% of placebo and pirfenidone patients, respectively (p=0.0031). All of these patients required hospitalization and one patient died. The analysis of the primary endpoint, change from baseline in the lowest oxygen saturation during a 6-minute exercise test, revealed a trend in the overall population (p=0.072) with a more pronounced treatment effect in a pre-specified subgroup of patients with milder disease (p=0.0305). Pirfenidone had a favorable effect on vital capacity, analyzed as both a change from baseline (p=0.0366) and a categorical assessment of the proportion of patients who improved, were stable, or declined (p=0.0028). Changes in total lung capacity, carbon monoxide diffusing capacity, resting partial pressure of arterial oxygen, dyspnea, and quality of life were not statistically significant after nine months of treatment. Gastrointestinal symptoms, photosensitivity and fatigue occurred more frequently in the pirfenidone group, although rates of treatment adherence were similar between the two groups. The main cause for patients discontinuing from study treatment was photosensitivity in the pirfenidone group (6.8% vs. 0%) and acute exacerbation (0% vs. 14%) in the placebo group.

"This study suggests that treatment with pirfenidone may prevent acute exacerbation of IPF and reduce the rate of decline in vital capacity," said Dan Welch, InterMune's President and CEO. "We are encouraged by these promising results and are moving forward with our discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency regarding the design of a Phase III development program for pirfenidone in IPF, which we expect to initiate in the first half of 2006."

InterMune acquired an exclusive license relating to the manufacture, use and sale of pirfenidone for antifibrotic use worldwide, excluding Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, where rights are held by Shionogi & Co., LTD.

About IPF
IPF is a disabling and ultimately fatal disease that affects approximately 83,000 people in the United States, with an estimated 30,000 new cases developing each year. Those diagnosed with IPF are usually between the ages of 50 and 70, and the disease tends to affect men more than women. IPF causes inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) in the lungs, hindering a person's ability to process oxygen and causing shortness of breath (dyspnea) and cough. IPF is a progressive disease, meaning that over time, lung scarring and symptoms increase in severity. Median survival time from diagnosis is two to five years in patients with IPF. There are currently no drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of IPF.

About Pirfenidone
Pirfenidone is an orally active, small molecule that shows a wide range of biologic activity. In vitro evidence has shown that pirfenidone inhibits collagen synthesis, down-regulates profibrotic cytokines and decreases fibroblast proliferation. Data presented from Phase II clinical trials suggest that pirfenidone may impact disease progression in patients with IPF. In these clinical experiences, pirfenidone was generally well tolerated with the most frequent side effects reported being photosensitivity rash and gastrointestinal symptoms. In 2004, the FDA and European Medicines Agency (EMEA) granted pirfenidone orphan drug designation for the treatment of IPF. InterMune has worldwide rights, excluding Japan, Korea and Taiwan, to develop and commercialize pirfenidone for all fibrotic diseases.
Source: InterMune, Inc.

About InterMune
InterMune is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative therapies in hepatology and pulmonology. The Company has a broad and deep late-stage product portfolio addressing hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, particularly nonresponders, or those patients who do not respond to first-line therapy, and IPF. Leading the hepatology portfolio is the DIRECT trial, a Phase III study of daily Infergen(R) (interferon alfacon-1) plus ribavirin, and a Phase IIb trial of daily Infergen plus Actimmune(R) (interferon gamma-1b) with and without ribavirin for the treatment of HCV nonresponders. In addition, InterMune has an early stage small molecule program targeted at the HCV protease. The pulmonology portfolio includes pirfenidone and Actimmune. Pirfenidone is being developed for the treatment of IPF. Actimmune is being investigated in the INSPIRE Trial, a Phase III study in patients with IPF. For additional information about InterMune and its development pipeline, please visit

InterMune Investor Relations

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Organ Donation Awareness in Canada's Parliament

Lloyd St. Amand, Member of Parliament (Brant, Lib:), attended the 11th annual Curling Bonspiel for Organ Donation Awareness in Brantford, Ontario, Canada April 9, 2005.
Lloyd St. Amand
I had a chance to talk with Lloyd and at that time he told me he found it "stunning to be in a room with so many people whose lives have been saved and changed by a transplant". He then said if I could send him some data on transplantation he would speak about it in Parliament.

I sent him some information and on April 22, 2005 he rose in the House of Commons and made the following remarks as printed in the Official Report of House of Commons Debates (Hansard) that Lloyd's office kindly sent to me:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.

I was fortunate to attend the Brant County Organ Donation Awareness curling bonspiel held April 9 at the Brantford Golf and Country Club. It was very moving and inspiring to hear from those who had received the gift of life through organ donation.

Canada has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world at 13 donors per million population. Some areas, such as Toronto, have only 10 donors per million population.

In Canada, up to 30 percent of people waiting for a solid organ transplant die on the waiting list. There is a chronic shortage of hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers and bowels for transplant in Canada. There are more than 3,500 people awaiting organ transplants in this country.

In recent months there has been much attention focused on the idea of creating a living will. It is my hope that all Canadians will take the time to speak to their families about organ and tissue donation".

Please join me in thanking Lloyd for his efforts on behalf of those waiting for their "Gift of Life". If you wish to send a personal note of thanks to Lloyd for promoting organ & tissue donation you can email him:
Lloyd St. Amand M.P.

Organ and Tissue Donation - The Gift of Life - Talk to your family and sign your donor card. Your decision can make a difference.
Donor cards available from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Monday, May 02, 2005

Civitan Club Golf May 26/05

Thursday, May 26, 2005. To raise money for temporary housing for pre-transplant out-of-town patients. Contact Carmine or Annia Foglia (905) 856-2950. To be held at the Glendale Golf and Country Club in Hamilton, Ontario. The organizers advise that it is still not too late to register to golf, and they are looking for sponsors for holes, and prizes for the table, as well as for the silent auction. Anything you can do to help to raise money for this worthy cause would be greatly appreciated.
(since this was written it has been announced that the Civitan Club has purchased 3 condo units in Mississauga, Ontario that will be very affordable for patients and ready for occupancy in 2006.)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

New U.S. Lung Allocation Policy

Brochures for transplant patients and professionals describing the new lung allocation policy have been updated to include additional details.

For more information or to view or order the brochures for patients and professionals go to the following link: UNOS

In the new lung allocation system every lung transplant candidate 12 and over will receive an individualized lung allocation score as opposed to the previous criteria of time on the waiting list. This lung allocation score will be used to allocate the limited supply of donor lungs and will reflect the seriousness of a transplant candidate's medical status and the likelihood of a successful transplant.