Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ontario donor father to ride on
Donate Life float in 2007 Rose Parade
Monday, January 1st

Donate Life FloatOn New Year's Day be sure to turn on your TV to watch the Rose Parade and keep an eye out for the Donate Life Float themed "Giving From the Heart". This year a Canadian donor father, Emile Therien, will ride on the float thanks to the sponsorship of Trillium Gift of Life Network

The 118th Rose parade themed Our Good Nature, will take place on Monday, January 1, 2007 at 8:00 a.m. (PST) featuring spirited marching bands from throughout the nation, majestic floral floats, and high-stepping equestrian units. Tournament of Roses Home Page

Every Rose Parade float is assembled by volunteers who enjoy bringing the floats to life, but only one float attracts nearly 1,000 volunteers from across California and the U.S. with its mission to inspire people to donate life through organ, tissue and blood donation: the 2007 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, Giving from the Heart.

Beginning Sun., Dec. 3, volunteers who vied for the opportunity to decorate this unique float came together every weekend and throughout the last week of December to ensure that Giving from the Heart is ready to carry its precious human cargo – 23 riders from 11 states and Canada who are all living donors or donor family members.

LOS ANGELES, CA, October 2, 2006 – They gave the ultimate gift – the gift of life – and now their good nature will encourage millions worldwide to follow their example as they ride the Donate Life float down Colorado Boulevard in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade®. Twenty-three living donors and donor family members from 11 states and Canada will ride on Donate Life’s float, Giving From The Heart, to inspire people to save lives as organ, tissue, and blood donors.

The 2007 Rose Parade signifies an important first for the Donate Life float as all riders will be living donors or donor family members, with the float’s theme bringing to life the good nature of all organ, tissue and blood donors. read the full press release

Earlier this year, Emile Therien's daughter Sarah Beth ushered a new era of organ donation in Canada when she became the nation's first organ donor after cardiac death. Says Emile, "She was a generous, compassionate, beautiful human being and she’d been very clear that if she were gone, she would want someone else to live."

Emile and Sarah Beth's Story

Emile and Beth Therien wanted to honor their 32-year old daughter’s wishes to become an organ donor after a sudden illness hospitalized her and placed her on life support. It was after the family made the decision to withdraw life support on June 17, 2006, that they approached the healthcare team with Sarah Beth’s wishes to become an organ donor. Sarah Beth Therien ushered in a new era when she became the first organ donor after cardiac death in Canada.

“Sarah Beth wanted to be an organ donor,” says Emile. “We had talked about it only days earlier in a completely unrelated way. She was a generous, compassionate, beautiful human being and she’d been very clear that if she were gone, she would want someone else to live. We had to make this happen.”

Up to that point, individuals who died from cardiac death in Canada were considered potential tissue donors only. Organ donation was possible only if a patient were declared brain dead. Although Sarah Beth did not meet this criterion, her family was determined to fulfill her wishes. The Theriens and their son Christopher inquired about and pushed for other options for organ donation.

Their efforts brought about a conversation with a Trillium Gift of Life Network coordinator at The Ottawa Hospital who had received training on donation after cardiac death (DCD). The coordinator approached the healthcare team and hospital administrators to assist this family in fulfilling their donation wishes. read the full story

Friday, December 29, 2006

World Transplant Games Bangkok 2007 August 25-Sept 3

2007 World Transplant Games Update
Two officials from the World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF) have visited Bangkok, Thailand, and the dates for the 2007 Games will remain as August 25th to September 2nd 2007. Opening ceremonies will take place on August 26th and the Gala dinner on September 1st. The cost is 34000 bahts/726 euros (which is approximately 1,062 Canadian dollars). They hope to have the registration documents to the WTGF for approval by the end of this month and the first deposit due by the end of March.
Heather Fisher
World Transplant Games Federation Representative from Canada

For more information please see the CTA web site. To help the CTA plan for organizing the Canadian Team please fill out the survey found on the web site where you will also find links for registration forms, who is going, and flight info. etc.

16th World Transplant Games

The World Transplant Games take place every two years where over 1500 athletes representing some 64 countries compete at an extraordinarily high level demonstrating the physical success of transplant surgery and the need to increase organ donation. Previous Event: Canada 2005 See Photos

The 16th World Transplant Games will be held at Bangkok’s Hua Mark Sports Complex, the top sports venue in Thailand. It is located in the compound of the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) in Bangkapi District of Bangkok.

There will be a Kid's program with the first 100 free. 800 Rooms have been booked for the games, all air conditioned. Four hotels are located in the heart of the city and in the center of the shopping area. The fifth hotel is near the stadium.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas CD helps promote organ donation awareness

"Alex Pangman and her band (The Alleycats) ring in the joy of Christmas loud and clear on this charming new release". George Evans as posted on Alex's website.

"Toronto-based classic jazz singer Alex Pangman releases her fourth album. Christmas Gift, Canada’s “Sweetheart of Swing” presents a joyful and rollicking set of both familiar and lesser-known Christmas tunes from the 1930s and 1940s. Among the tuneful chestnuts such as “Jingle Bells” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are some charming and obscure 1930s holiday fare.

The instrumental “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” shows off the talents of Pangman’s backing band. Pangman brings her own original song “Truckin’ Around the Christmas Tree” to the holiday songbook.

Also memorable is an updated blues version of “Christmas Spirits,” whose subtle message may be applied to something each one of us should think about—in this season’s spirit of giving, Ms. Pangman, in conjunction with the Trillium Gift for Life Organization, has included with each disc a special message concerning organ and tissue donation, as well as an organ donor card." From the press release by George Evans. Also please go to Alex's website.

Brian Kellow, Community Relations Coordinator for Trillium Gift of Life Network has asked me to advertise the CD which I am very pleased to do. It looks like an excellent chance to pick-up a holiday gift and help advance organ donation at the same time. Merv.

Here's Brian's note to me:
"I am happy to tell you about an album that has been released. The record is composed of Christmas songs performed by a jazz musician who has been lending her voice to our cause.

Trillium Gift of Life Network worked on the packaging with this young Jazz singer who has a personal connection to donation and has used her record to promote donation by including a donor card, information sheet and dedicating the record in part to donors and those who work to promote donation. It's a wonderful record and you can hear samples or order from the website. Brian Kellow."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Annual Lung Transplant Picnic
Sunday June 24, 2007

Mark your calendars. Our annual Lung Transplant picnic and BBQ is Sunday, June 24th, 2007 (the Sunday after Father's Day) at the same location as in the past years, Huron Park, Mississauga, starting at 12 noon. More information to come later. If you have any questions or want more information email me. Thanks, Merv.

Transplant Open Golf June 7 (Thur) 2007

Mark your calendars! The 2007 Transplant Open Golf Tournament fundraiser for lung transplant research will be held at the beautiful Granite Ridge Golf Club, at highway 401 and highway 25 west of Toronto. Full directions at the Granite Ridge Web Site

As in the past, this fundraising event is under the auspices of Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, to which we are grateful for their help and support.

The 2006 tournment was very successful thanks to our supporters and we hope to be even more successful in 2007 with your continued support. Please make a note: Thursday, June 7, 2007, Transplant Open Golf. More details later.

Know your cholesterol risk - new web site

Everyone should be aware of the risks associated with high cholesterol, but transplant patients must be especially vigilant and I found this press release to be timely and informative.

Helping Canadians Eat, Move and Motivate Towards a Healthier Heart - Know Your Risk, Know Your Ratio Campaign Helps Manage Cholesterol

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Dec. 13 /CNW/ - Cholesterol is one of those dirty words muttered at the doctor's office or at the dinner table when passing on the mashed potatoes and gravy. Although most Canadians understand the importance of lowering bad cholesterol levels, many do not understand the relationship between good and bad cholesterol or the role of the Cholesterol Ratio in predicting long-term cardiovascular risk.

A recent Leger Marketing survey of cholesterol patients revealed the vast majority (98 per cent) feel it is important they lower their cholesterol.

The Know Your Risk, Know Your Ratio campaign is the first integrated food and nutrition, exercise and wellness program focusing on the Cholesterol Ratio as a total approach to managing cholesterol. As part of the campaign, Know Your Ratio is an educational and informative website for consumers who suffer from high cholesterol and are looking to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Read the full Press Release.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Record number of donors give blood in honor of Canadian troops

OTTAWA, Dec. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier will be presented tomorrow with cards and wishes from more than 20,000 Canadian blood donors collected between November 1st and 30th to send to our men and women who serve.

From coast to coast, Canadians took the time from their busy schedules to pay tribute to troops and veterans at home and overseas with thousands of heartfelt notes. "This pint of blood is a small appreciation to you," says one donor, "for a brave and dangerous job you are all doing." And another: "I am wearing red every Friday as are my three grandsons. Come home safe."

When OPERATION ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES kicked-off in late October, Canadian Blood Services hoped to exceed last year's "in honour" campaign that gathered over 2,900 signed cards. The year's overwhelming response is a strong message of how proud Canadians are of our Canadian Forces.

  • Dr. Graham Sher, CEO, Canadian Blood Services

  • General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff

  • Gaetan Dallaire, Blood donor and father of fallen soldier

  • WHEN: Tuesday, December 12th, 2006 8:00 a.m.

  • WHERE: Canadian Blood Services Head Office
    1800 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Delta offers free hotel stays for those caring for ailing relatives

Delta Hotels in Canada is offering free accommodation for out of town families caring for hospitalized loved ones, according to the following press release. Delta has always offered reduced room rates for patients and their families but this "holiday special" of free accommodation is a wonderful gesture.

TORONTO, ON, December 1, 2006
– ‘Tis the season to give and that is exactly what Delta Hotels is doing with its annual program, A Home for the Holidays, now in its 17th year. Between mid-December and early January (dates vary according to hotel), complimentary accommodation is offered to out-of-town families caring for hospitalized relatives.

Note: Participating hotels and hospitals are located in Victoria, Vancouver, Whistler, B.C., Kananaskis, Alta., Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, London, Ont., Toronto, Muskoka, Ottawa, Sherbrooke, Que., Saint John, N.B., Halifax, Charlotttown and St. john's, N.L.

“Through A Home for the Holidays, Delta Hotels can give families the comfort of a home away from home while they care for a loved one in the hospital,” says company president, Hank Stackhouse.

Those who wish to participate in A Home for the Holidays may apply directly through the hospital. The hospital’s program administrator will make reservations for qualified visitors with the participating hotel or resort.

A Home for the Holidays, which has assisted thousands of families since its launch in 1990, is a core element of Delta Cares, Delta Hotels’ community relations program. Each year, more than 7,000 Delta colleagues participate in a number of charitable activities including those benefiting Delta’s national charity, Special Olympics Canada, and Adopt-a-Shelter, that partners hotel with local women’s shelters.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hospital equipment for sale

Kathleen (Kitty) Sayle, recent lung transplant recipient, has issued the following request and I am pleased to post it here:

"I am contacting you to ask for your help today. I am trying to sell the hospital equipment I required prior to my surgery. I have explored many avenues to sell these items. If any of you can post in your work place or know of an agency that would purchase this equipment I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Kitty."

  • #1. One Electrical Hospital Bed in Excellent Working Condition. One owner for 1 year. Price reduced for clearance. It has head, foot and height control with side bars. Cost: $1,800.00 - Must be picked up from Kitty's home address.

  • #2. One deluxe model portable commode chair with collapsible arms/splash guard and bucket. One adjustable bath chair with back included. Both priced at $400.00. Available for delivery in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

Other offers will be considered.
For immediate sale.

Please contact:

Kitty Sayle
Home Telephone: (416) 364-1594

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another call for help

I received the following plea for help finding inexpensive accommodation in Toronto. If you know of reasonably priced places in Toronto that would suit the following request please let me know ASAP. Like many families facing the prospect of a transplant their budget is tight, and they will appreciate any help they can get in finding an affordable place to stay. If you wish to correspond directly with them E-mail me and I will provide contact info. Thanks, Merv.

“Dear Merv,
My nephew, and his mother, will be traveling to Toronto General Hospital for a double lung transplant assessment on January 2, 2007 from Vancouver. We are hoping to make arrangements as soon as possible for a least the two week assessment period from Jan 2 /07 until about the 15th.

I have been searching for a reasonably priced accommodation for them both while they are there for two weeks for assessment and thereafter for up to 9 months if he is accepted for the transplant. We do not know if he will be accepted for the double lung transplant until after that assessment.

Could you help me in this regard with resources or numbers or websites to contact? We have information on all the UHN hotels etc. but they are far too expensive. I am trying to check out the other resources but my nephew’s and his mother's budget is limited as he does not have health insurance and is on a disability pension. Any help with info for accommodation would be helpful.

Possibly a 1 bedroom furnished condo or room for rent? Thank you.” (Name withheld to protect privacy).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Province of Ontario Creates Citizens Panel to Help Increase Organ Donation

This looks like a great opportunity to make your views known about how to increase the rate of organ donation in Ontario. Why not make a point of attending these public meetings when the panel comes to your community? I know that I'm looking forward to giving my views, especially given the fact that someone dies every three days in the province while on the waiting list for a transplant. There are currently 1770 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in Ontario. Merv.

TORONTO, Nov. 24 - The McGuinty government has created a citizens panel to develop recommendations to increase organ donation in the province.

Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman announced today. "Organ donation saves hundreds of lives each year across Ontario, yet there are not enough available donors to meet the demand for organ transplants," Smitherman said. "That's why we're creating the Citizens Panel on Increasing Organ Donations consisting of highly regarded individuals in the community who will provide our government with their collective wisdom and develop recommendations for a made-in-Ontario Organ Donation Strategy."

The six members of the Citizens Panel on Increasing Organ Donations are:

  • Dr. Ted Boadway, former director of health policy at the Ontario Medical Association

  • Alvin Curling, former MPP and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature;

  • Peter Desbarats, print and television journalist, and previous dean at the University of Western Ontario;

  • Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes, human rights activist and pastor of Metropolitan Community Church Toronto;

  • Gisèle Lalonde, community activist and former mayor of Vanier, who served on the board of directors of the Montfort Hospital and the Montfort Hospital Foundation;

  • Joan Neiman, former Canadian Senator

  • For in depth profiles of the panel click here.

Over the next few months, (starting Nov. 29th in Kitchener & Sarnia) the panel will hold public forums across the province to consult with the public. See the full schedule of meetings.

See the full news release for a list of topics the panel will be consulting with the public on.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Some coming events around Toronto General Hospital

Mark your calendars for these coming events.

Thu, Nov 23rd - 10:00AM to 4:00PM
HeartLinks Annual Craft and Bake Sale Fundraiser
Next to Tim Horton’s in the McEwen Building (off University Avenue).

This is a great opportunity to support the heart transplant group and pick up unique gifts and baked goods for the holidays. Info: Heartlinks

Wed, Dec 6th – 10:00AM to 2:00PM
Annual Lung Transplant Christmas Party
11th floor west, Room 1135 New Clinical Services Building (NCSB) - take elevators from University lobby.

This annual event is for pre and post lung transplant patients, their supports, doctors, nurses, and all other medical staff. As usual, this is a potluck affair, and any type of finger food will be appreciated. You can bring sandwiches, cheese plates, veggie plates, deserts of any type, etc. Coffee and tea will be provided. It is a great time to connect with post transplant patients, and get to know those pre-transplants on the list at the moment. Cepacia negative patients are invited between 10:00 am and noon and Cepacia positive patients from noon to 2:00 pm.

Let's have a good turnout in support of Linda Lycett and the committee for organizing this. Info: Linda Lycett or Maureen O'Dell.

Thu, Dec 7th, - 1:00PM to 4:00PM
Heart Transplant Year-End Annual Holiday Party

Note from the HeartLinks Group:
“This will be on the 11th floor of the McEwen Building in the Fujisawa Room (room 1135) where it has been the last few years. There will be signs to point you in the right direction once you are on the 11th floor. Please note that this is Pot-Luck and every year we have a wonderful selection of various foods, treats and deserts. This event is always a highlight for the HeartLinks group. Similar to last year, we will be holding a small raffle to help liven up the event. We hope you can make it out.” Info: Heartlinks

Quintuple kidney transplant a first

The London Free Press (Ontario, Canada)
Tue, November 21, 2006, by AP.

The simultaneous operations, which included a Canadian donor, made medical history.

BALTIMORE -- It took 12 surgeons, six operating rooms and five donors, but five desperate strangers simultaneously received new organs in what hospital officials yesterday described as the first quintuple kidney the full news article.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sportswear that supports Organ Donation Awareness

Mike Kolatschek’s brother Rob is a liver transplant recipient whose life was transformed to the point where he could resume high-level athletic activities. I checked with Trillium Gift of Life Network and they are very supportive of this initiative to raise organ donation awareness and I’m pleased to support Trans-Sport Canada’s efforts by posting this announcement. This could be a great gift item. (P.S. - Since posting this I received a couple of the short sleeved T-Shirts as a gift from my daughter for my birthday. They're great!) Merv.

It's that time of year - Fall - perfect for those long morning strolls with loved ones or mid afternoon runs along the water with friends. To make your time outside even more meaningful, why not show your support for organ donation by wearing a Geckorunners long sleeved top or cap.

This cool swag was developed to create a sense of support for the cause and tribute to donor families, for a small donation of $20. Send us a picture of you wearing the Gecko gear and we’ll post it on our website.

Interested in two or more items? We’ll cover the shipping costs! Wear the gear proudly, believing that everyone deserves a second chance at life.

Thanks for your support.

Mike Kolatschek
President, Co-Chair
Trans-Sport Canada

Trans-Sport Canada is a volunteer run, incorporated non-profit organization that includes transplant athletes and others who are committed to raising organ donation awareness. TSC encourages Canadian organ transplant recipients and donors of all ages to get involved in sports to contribute to a healthy and productive life.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

External Heart installed by Calgary team

My daughter Christine lives in Calgary and sent me this article, which is of special interest to me because my roommate post lung-transplant received the first mechanical pump installed in a patient's heart at Toronto General Hospital.

by Michelle Lang, Calgary Herald; with files from The Canadian Press
Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Calgary surgeons have successfully installed a mechanical pump in a patient's heart for the first time in this city, implanting the device in a Red Deer man who is waiting for a heart transplant.

Dwight McFarland, 45, is recovering at Foothills Hospital following the Nov. 1 operation when he received the pump -- called a ventricular assist device -- as part of a new surgical program for victims of heart failure.

"I am very happy it works and happy they have the knowledge and kindness to help someone like me," said McFarland, in an interview with the Herald on Tuesday.

The Calgary operation comes as the first Canadian to receive a mechanical heart died in Ontario last weekend at age 61.

Noella Leclair made medical history in this country 20 years ago when Ottawa doctors gave her a Jarvik-7 artificial heart after she suffered a heart attack.

A week later, Leclair received a human heart from a donor.

Artificial hearts have come a long way since that first surgery. They are more reliable and cause fewer complications such as blood clots. There is also a wider variety of devices on the market offering more options for patients depending on their age, size and the full Calgary Herald Article

St. Joseph's Catholic Women embrace organ & tissue donation

click for larger pictureTerri Wellstead, President, Merv Sheppard, Jennifer Bielby, V-P, Fr. Ian Duffy.
It was definitely worth the drive to Fergus, Ontario on the evening of November 14th, 2006. The St. Joseph's Catholic Women's League asked me to be a guest speaker at their General Meeting and the 20 or so participants were very receptive to the organ donation message. I have found the Catholic church to be big supporters of organ and tissue donation everywhere I go around the Province and this is probably due to the fact that the Church has officially announced in the past that the "Gift of Life" is the greatest gift one human being can give to another.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Gift That Helps Transplant Research

Here’s a great opportunity to buy yourself a gift or holiday gifts for others and help transplant research at the same time.

Stories From Her Journey by Liz Maxwell is a well-written little volume filled with wonderful short stories and is just $20 plus S&H with all proceeds going to Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation for liver transplant research at University Health Network.

Liz Maxwell was a liver transplant recipient and a member of a creative writing group. She loved to write about her transplant experience plus other essays on life in general. But Liz passed away in the summer of 2005 and her writing group decided to publish a book of her essays in her memory and donate the proceeds to liver transplant research. I’ve read many of the stories and they are inspiring, especially those about the transforming experience of her transplant and her thoughts about her donor and donor family.

To order or for more info go to Semi-detached Press.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ontario Government promotes organ and tissue donation in a big way

I've been doing quite a bit of public speaking on organ and tissue donation awareness lately and at almost every event I'm asked "how does one go about getting a donor card?". There are many sources, such as directly from Trillium Gift of Life and our government here in Ontario is helping to make it easy to obtain a card in a big way. You will see below that 15,000 new driver's licences and renewals are mailed daily, all containing donor cards. Also, the Ministry of Health now asks if you wish to be a donor on all new and renewing health cards.

click for larger pictureThe Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) recently added a special personalized licence plate with the Trillium Gift of Life logo per this sample. And already several people have purchased these and submitted photos for me to post. If you decide to promote organ and tissue donation by getting your own special plate please take a photo and send it to me and I'll create an on-line gallery. This personalized plate is now available through the Ministry of Transportation. For more information or to order visit the MTO web site.

This plate was given to double-lung transplant recipient Kurt Penner by his sons for Father's for larger picture
Double-lung transplant recipient Herb Kershaw sent in this innovative picture of his plate that reads "lung transplant" in licence plate language.
click for larger picture
Its great to see these positive steps being taken by the Ontario Government to promote public awareness for organ and tissue donation. In a recent announcement, the Honorable Harinder Takhar, Minister of Transportation, said that the Ministry already includes organ donor cards in every mailing of new or renewed driver’s licences. And, that they are now adding the Trillium Gift of Life Network message and logo. He noted that every day more than 15,000 licences are issued and they are doing what they can to get the message out and to help save lives.

In addition, MTO will be reminding Ontarians to give the gift of life with a message on the back of every license plate renewal envelope containing an organ and tissue donation card inside.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Corporate Ontario continues to embrace organ donation awareness

More than 60 people turned up for a noon meeting yesterday to hear about organ and tissue donation organized in cooperation with Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN). It was gratifying to see a huge turnout of a combined audience of employees of Nuclear Safety Solutions and Ontario Power for larger pictureFront: Lori Lucas, Mary Silvestri. Rear: Linda Rumble, TGLN volunteer, company physician Dr. Sotto, Human Resources Director Sean O'Dyer, Merv Sheppard, TGLN volutneer, Katrina McArthur, Brian Kellow, TGLN, Debbie Lanktree, TGLN and a bone marrow recipient (unnamed).

The audience was very receptive to our message. I spoke about my lung transplant experience. Linda Rumble, also a TGLN volunteer, talked about organ and tissue donation from a donor family perspective. Two fellow employees, Mary Silvestri and Lori Lucas had a heartwarming story to tell; last year, Lori donated one of her kidneys to Mary in the ultimate act of friendship by giving her friend "the gift of life".

Brian Kellow, TGLN Community Relations Coordinator, talked about the more than 1770 people on the waiting list for a life-saving transplant while every three days someone dies before receiving the organ they so desperately needed for a "second chance" at life. He urged everyone to sign their donor cards and talk to their families about their wishes.

Trillium Gift of Life Network has been extremely active recently and continues to receive strong support and cooperation from corporations and professional sport organizations and we are already starting to see an increase in the rate of organ and tissue donation in Ontario.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Annual Lung Transplant Xmas Party,
December 6, 2006 10am to 2pm

Linda Lycett has announced that the Annual Lung Transplant Christmas Party will be held Wednesday, December 6th, 2006 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the regular lung transplant support group meeting room on the 11th floor of the McEwen wing, Toronto General Hospital. Mark your calendars!

This annual event is for pre and post lung transplant patients, their supports, doctors, nurses, and all other medical staff. As usual, this is a potluck affair, and any type of finger food will be appreciated. You can bring sandwiches, cheese plates, veggie plates, deserts of any type, etc. Coffee and tea will be provided. It is a great time to connect with post transplant patients, and get to know those pre-transplants on the list at the moment. Cepacia negative patients are invited between 10:00 am and noon, and Cepacia positive patients from noon to 2:00 pm. Let's have a good turnout in support of Linda for organizing this.

For more information e-mail: Linda Lycett or Maureen O'dell

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Plea For Help

This is the plight of a patient on the waiting list for a lung transplant that does not have a support person. Several people in the lung transplant community have decided to help by forming a “team” of care givers to be available and on hand to share support duties at Toronto General Hospital when the time comes. It is a requirement that lung transplant recipients have an adequate social support system in place prior to the surgery.

This is an invitation and call for help if you are female and someone who has been through the process, either as a care-giver/support person or a recipient.

The patient’s name is Luanne Terreberry, a 53 year-old mother of two from Welland, Ontario who was diagnosed with COPD in 1995.

She wrote me to say that when she receives her transplant she will have very little or no support in the hospital.

Two people have already volunteered but they cannot be full-time care givers. Lori Brien of Waterloo (wife of double-lung recipient Grant Hagerty) will be the coordinator for “Team Luanne” and contact all volunteers to make arrangements and scheduling to be in place when Luanne receives her transplant.

Luanne has a very positive outlook and desperately wants her transplant. She has been on the waiting list since May, 2005 but needs to stay on the list by showing that she has an adequate social network in place to provide support and care. Knowing that she has a support team in place will be very reassuring and comforting to her as she waits for her call.

Can you help? If yes, email me your phone number and email address and you will be contacted soon.

Thanks for considering this. Merv.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Living donor lung transplant performed in Edmonton, Alberta

Cystic Fibrosis patient Pam Metcalf was given six months to live. This is an inspiring story about how her cousin Chris Kutryk and an uncle, 50-year-old Dave Donald, donated lobes of their own lungs to save Pam’s life. This is a rare, high-risk procedure and there’s been only six living lung transplants performed in Canada.

Note: Although this is a very laudable story, medical professionals have checked the article and noticed a factual error; the average lifespan of transplanted lungs was reported as 15-20 years. While this is what we all hope for, it was inaccurate for the reporter to imply that this is the average or expected outcome of a lung transplant at the present time.

Lobes from two Edmonton donors replace Red Deer, Alberta woman's failing lungs

Jodie Sinnema, The Edmonton Journal
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
EDMONTON - When Chris Kutryk heard his cousin had only six months to live unless she received a lung transplant, he quit smoking, took an office job less physically taxing than his oilfield work and agreed to donate the lower lobe of his left lung.

He now has a 20-centimetre scar across his abdomen, 20 per cent less lung capacity and a job with one-third his previous salary -- but also a cousin who will live long enough to get married after he and an uncle became live lung donors.

"I had a choice: I could go to a funeral or be inconvenienced for a few months," said Kutryk, 34, of his decision to donate.

His 25-year-old cousin, Pam Metcalf of Red Deer, had cystic fibrosis and was dying while she waited for a more traditional lung transplant from a donor whose brain has died, but whose organs are sustained through artificial life the Edmonton Journal Article where you will learn that this procedure is rarely done.

According to Dr. John Mullen, Metcalf's transplant surgeon, only six such live transplantations have been done in Canada, five of them at the University of Alberta, including Metcalf's operation and an unsuccessful one after which a recipient died from a severe fungal infection.

"It's rare because we are really putting three people's lives on the line at the same time," Mullen said. "There is no other operation that has a 300-per-cent risk." Read the Full Article

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors Promote Organ Donation


News Release
October 26, 2006 – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) announced a groundbreaking community partnership to educate employees on organ and tissue donation today, while challenging other companies in Ontario to do the same.

"Organ and tissue donation is a vital issue that affects all Canadians and is responsible for saving and giving quality of life to thousands of people each year," said Richard Peddie, President and CEO of MLSE. "Our company and employees support the Trillium Gift of Life Network and the great work they do in raising awareness and educating about the importance of signing your donor card and sharing your decision with your family."

In line with MLSE's company value of demonstrating community leadership, Peddie issued a corporate challenge to all companies across the Greater Toronto Area to not only talk to their employees about organ and tissue donation, but also encourage them to sign their donor card and speak to their families.

“We are very excited about this partnership,” said Frank Markel, President and CEO, TGLN. “Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has really shown a great deal of leadership and initiative in terms of corporate responsibility. They know we need to get people talking to their families about their organ donation wishes.

We are grateful to Richard and his teams for helping us with this important work. We hope that companies across this province will look to them as an example and also become partners with us in the near future.”

The announcement was made at a MLSE meeting where 400 employees including Wendel Clark and Darryl Sittler heard from TGLN staff, 14-year old Brandon Gibson, who is on the waiting list for a double lung transplant and Heather Bishop, a heart recipient, about the importance of organ and tissue donation.

Both organizations will work together on several internal and external awareness pieces including:

  • Distribution of a special Toronto Maple Leafs Poster featuring former Captains Wendel Clark, Rick Vaive and Darryl Sittler, as part of the TGLN Celebrity Awareness Campaign

  • A voicemail from the President supporting organ and tissue donation

  • Distribution of donor cards and materials to employees at work

  • Display of donor-related materials in high traffic areas (cafeterias, lobby etc.)

  • Addition of to the MLSE intranet site

  • Hosting of educational events for employees

  • Placement of articles about organ and tissue donation in newsletters

  • Placement of a TGLN link on the company website

Today in Ontario, 1750 patients are on the transplant waiting list. Of those, 1092 are men, 658 are women and 27 of those patients are children.

“I love the Maple Leafs,” said Brandon Gibson. “I’m glad to know that the Maple Leafs and the Raptors will be telling people about organ donation. Everyone here needs to know that they have the power to make a difference to someone out there. They need to know they can make a difference to someone like me.”

The partnership, which is effective immediately, will focus on the key issues for organ and tissue donation and raise awareness about the importance of talking to your family about your organ donation intentions.

“Every 3 days someone who is on the organ donation waiting list dies,” said Markel. “Sign your organ donation card and tell your family what your organ donation wishes are. You can make a difference. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment made a difference today – now it’s up to you.”

For more details about the Community Partnership Program or Trillium Gift of Life Network please visit our website or call 416.363.4001 or toll free 1-800-263-2833.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shingles vaccine urged for people over 60

The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. has recommended that the new Merck drug, Zostavax, should be given to people over 60 years of age and older. On checking patient information at Merck's web site I learned that this vaccine should not be taken by people who are immune-suppressed and transplant recipients on anti-rejection drugs should be aware of this. Here's the story as reported by United Press International:

ATLANTA, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. immunization panel recommended that people age 60 and older receive a new vaccine against shingles, a condition that can lead to chronic pain.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel of the national Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, recommended that Zostavax be given to all people age 60 and older, including those who have had a previous outbreak of shingles, or herpes zoster, the CDC said in a news release.

Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, said the vaccine was found to be safe and effective in protecting against shingles and its associated pain, the CDC said. In the study, Zostavax was found to reduce the occurrence of shingles by about 50 percent in participants who were 60 years and older, the CDC said.

Shingles in adults is caused by the childhood disease chicken pox, the CDC said. The virus becomes dormant in nerves following a chicken pox outbreak, only to emerge later as shingles in about 25 percent of those who had chicken pox. Shingles often causes chronic pain, and the risk of chronic pain increases with age, starting at 60 years, the CDC said

Friday, October 27, 2006

Three-in-one virus killer prevents common, often fatal infections

This article immediately caught my attention because I fought CMV (cytomegalovirus) for almost a year following my lung transplant. Although these trials are in the early stages they offer some hope for the future.

HOUSTON -- (October 26, 2006) -- A novel combination therapy drastically reduces the infection rate of three viruses – and risk of death – in transplant patients with compromised immune systems. The findings, to be reported in the Nov. 1 print edition of Nature Medicine, originate from a study conducted at Baylor College of Medicine, The Methodist Hospital, and Texas Children’s Hospital.

The journal has posted the findings online.

The phase 1 trial, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, tested the first multivirus killer of its kind, called Trivirus - specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), which control infections caused by three commonplace viruses – cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and adenovirus. Although benign in people with normal immune systems, the viruses can cause life-threatening illnesses in transplant patients and others with compromised immune the full news release.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scientists Find High Glucose Before Surgery Increases Risk of Potentially Life Threatening Complications

Scientists at Jefferson Medical College suggest that their research shows that high blood sugar should be well controled before surgery, according to the the following article published on their web site.

Patients who have high blood sugar before undergoing surgery run an increased risk of developing blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and even pulmonary embolism after surgery.

Boris Mraovic, M.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology in the Artificial Pancreas Center at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and his colleagues examined records of nearly 6,500 hip or knee replacement surgery patients at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital who were admitted between 2003 and 2005. They asked what happened to patients with high blood sugar that wasn’t well controlled prior to surgery.

Of these patients, 38 had very high blood glucose – more than 250 mg/dl – on the day of preoperative testing and the day of surgery. The team found that approximately 10.5 percent of the patients with high blood sugar developed a pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening condition in which blood clots travel to the lungs, after surgery, a rate that is 6.2 times greater than would be expected in the general population. The researchers report their results on October 15, 2006 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Chicago.

“These data suggest that if an individual has high blood glucose and is coming for surgery, he or she should correct it first and probably postpone the surgery,” says Dr. the full article.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Craft and Bake Sale earns $2625 for the lung transplant program at Toronto General Hospital

Congratulations to lung transplant recipient Linda Lycett and her team for the successful fundraising Craft and Bake Sale held at Toronto General Hospital October 19th. Here's Linda's report:

"I am so happy to report that our Craft and Bake Sale was a great success and we managed to bring in a grand total of $2625.55.

Special thanks to Mavis Bullock and her daughter Cathy, Kris Risk and her mother Ieva, Shannon Halliwell (Emily's sister), Myrna McCoy and Judy Clarke, and Julie Fleet for once again helping to man the tables.

Thanks also to all those who sent or brought in crafts or baked goods to support our sale, or made donations in lieu of. This is definitely a group effort and we couldn't do it without everyone's help.

Once again, thanks for all of your support.

Linda Lycett"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hamilton Tiger Cats Promote Organ Donation

Click For Larger Picture

Wayne Smith, TiCats and Nancy Hemrica, Trillium Gift of Life Network

View more photos

Hamilton, Ontario - October 17th, 2006.
Wayne Smith, offensive tackle for the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League finished his daily practice and rushed over to the Hamilton Health Sciences hospital (McMaster division) to help us promote organ and tissue donation awareness.

Wayne signed autographs, handed out donor cards and green ribbons and was very friendly with the public.

His generosity is typical of the wonderful support that Hamilton Tiger Cats have given to organ donation awareness over the years.

In addition to Wayne and the Tiger Cats Football Club, thanks should also go to Nancy Hemrica, TGLN* Organ & Tissue Donation Coordinator, Brian Kellow, TGLN Community Relations and Carly Baxter, Hamilton Health Sciences Public Relations who supported and coordinated this initiative.
*TGLN - Trillium Gift of Life Network

Monday, October 16, 2006

Surgeon reunited with patient he saved in 1989

This story about life-saving surgery and how it affects not only the lives of patients but their doctors as well is a wonderful example for us all.

WINNIPEG (Oct 16, 2006)
A surprise reunion at a Winnipeg health conference Saturday brought together a British surgeon and the now-17-year-old girl he saved in 1989 with groundbreaking surgery.

Alys Turner of Brandon, Man., was close to tears as she hugged and thanked the man who gave her a second chance at life when she was a newborn.

She was a surprise guest brought to the Global Conference on Heart Health to surprise Sir Magdi Yacoub.

Alys was just the third person in the world to have the surgery to repair the abnormal arteries in her heart.

Yacoub was stunned to see his former patient. "She's a miracle,'' he said, holding Alys' hands. "This is what makes it worthwhile.''

"I can't put into words how much he's affected my life," Alys said.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Reminder - Annual Craft & Bake Sale Thursday Oct 19, 2006

The annual craft and bake sale fundraiser for the lung transplant program is Thursday, October 19, 2006 at Toronto General Hospital, Robert R. McEwen Atrium entrance (585 University Ave) 9:00AM – 5:00PM. Mark your calendars!

This will be a great opportunity to pick-up baked goods or unique gifts for special occasions or the coming holidays.

You can also support this important fundraising initiative by contributing baked goods and crafts which may be dropped off before or on the day of the sale. For more information and instructions where to drop off or send items before the sale date e-mail Linda Lycett or Maureen O'Dell. You can also call Linda at (416) 245 9306.

Linda Lycett is a lung transplant recipient who has continued to give back in many ways over the years such as organizing this annual sale that has raised monies to purchase equipment for the treadmill room and a TV for the lounge, as an example.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Special Thanks for Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Patch - click for larger pictureThis weekend millions of Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with family and friends for a day of warmth, thanks and sharing around the traditional dinner.

Last year I came across this pumpkin patch where families with children were having a great time picking out the the best one to take home for a pumpkin pie or Halloween. This reminded me that it was Thanksgiving and that I had much to be thankful for and I posted the following message that I wish to repeat this year. (adjusted for 2006).

"As a lung transplant survivor of four and a half years I am profoundly thankful for my "second chance" at life and try to say a silent prayer of thanks daily to all those who made it happen for me. But on this Canadian Thanksgiving Day, 2006 I am publicly posting my thanks here to share with all.

Thanks to the front line professionals at the hospitals, such as the Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinators, nurses and physicians who have the sometimes heart-wrenching job of speaking to families of potential donors about donating their loved one's organs.

Thanks to my donor and donor family for making the courageous decision to give me the "Gift of Life" by donating their loved one's lung to me. I have never met you and know nothing about you, but if I could talk to you I would tell you how grateful and thankful I am. I would also tell you that your loved one is part of me now and that their spirit has blended with mine. And we are both doing very well.

A huge thanks also to the physicians that made it all possible: Dr. Rob Williams, Dr. Gerry Cox, Dr. Lianne Singer and my surgeon Dr. Shaf Keshavjee and his lung transplant team at Toronto General Hospital. The staff at Toronto General, from the nurses to the technologists and technicians were wonderful and I'll always be thankful.

I also want to thank my family and friends that prayed for me and gave me the loving support that meant so much and continues to mean so much to me."

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Merv.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Allograft, isograft, xenograft, and autograft defined

Someone recently mentioned that they keep seeing or hearing the term "allograft" in reference to transplants but wern't sure what the term meant. Here is an easy to understand definition of this and similar terms.

An allograft is a transplanted organ or tissue from a genetically non-identical member of the same species. Most human tissue and organ transplants are allografts.

In contrast, a transplanted organ or tissue from a genetically identical donor, i.e. an identical twin, is called an isograft, while a transplant from another species is termed a xenograft. When a tissue is transplanted from one site to another on the same patient, such as a skin graft or a tissue flap, it is termed an autograft.

Allografts and xenografts will be recognized by the recipient's immune system as foreign and will therefore be attacked in a process termed rejection; this does not occur in autografts or true isografts (although in practice, transplants between identical twins are usually covered with immunosuppressants in case they are not 100% genetically identical).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

$20,000 raised for lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital

click for larger picture The golf committee presenting funds raised: L-R Merv Sheppard, Peter Laurence, Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Director Lung Transplant Program, Toronto General Hospital, Kim Cassar, Tracey Jack and Dr. Lianne Singer, Medical Director, Lung Transplant Program. Missing is committee member Carol Devlin

View all the photos

The June 7, 2006 golf tournament to raise funds for lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital was a huge success and our committee was pleased to present the check at an open lung transplant support group meeting September 27th.

Hospital staff and other guests joined the capacity audience of lung transplant patients to celebrate the event. Special thanks go to Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation for their help and support in making the tournament a success.

Mark your calendars for next year. Thursday, June 7th, Granite Ridge Golf Club, Milton, Ontario.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Special event this Wednesday at Toronto General Hospital

Date: Wednesday, September 27th, 2006 - 11 A.M. Open Lung Transplant Support Group meeting in Toronto.

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Director, Toronto Lung Transplant Program, will attend and be presented a check by organizers of the Lung Transplant Golf Tournament fundraiser for lung transplant research. The June 7th event was very successful and a substantial amount was raised.

We are hoping for a good turnout to show support for Dr. Keshavjee and the lung transplant team.

All support group meetings are at 11am in the Fujisawa Conference Room, 11th floor west, Room 1135 NCSB.
(NCSB - New Clinical Services Building, Toronto General Hospital - take elevators from University Avenue lobby)

This is an open meeting and all transplant patients, their supports and staff are invited. Refreshments will be served.
NB This will be a non-cepacia meeting due to the needs of the presenters.

I look forward to seeing you there. Merv.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Brief intermission

I'll be away for a few days. Regular posts will resume when I return. Meanwhile, please browse the previous posts, photo gallery and other links. Thanks, Merv.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trillium Gift of Life Network launches Celebrity Awareness Campaign

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Trillium Gift of life Network President and CEO, Frank Markel (from left); Volunteer and organ (liver) recipient, Gary Cooper; Kidney Patient, Rick Prestige; Ontario Medical Association President, Dr. David Bach; and Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinator, Sandra Petzel, in Thunder Bay, Friday, September 15, 2006, help launch the newest Celebrity Awareness Campaign poster featuring Paul Shaffer. (CCNMATTHEWS PHOTO/Trillium Gift of Life Network)

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 18, 2006) - Paul Shaffer along with celebrities from across the country are showing their support for organ donation by lending their names and faces to a Celebrity Awareness Campaign launched in Thunder Bay today by Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) with the assistance of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA).

"Today in Thunder Bay we are launching the Paul Shaffer poster. It's part of a campaign to get Ontarians talking to their loved ones about their organ donation wishes," said Frank Markel, President and CEO of TGLN. "According to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey, 93 percent of Ontarians support organ donation. But we also know that the consent rate in this province is only 48 percent. The reason we hear time and again that eligible families don't consent to donation is because they don't know what their loved one would have wanted. This campaign is designed to change that. We want to get people talking about their organ donation wishes today. And we want to thank all of the celebrities who have joined us to make this such a great success, we are truly honoured to have them with us on this important mission."...full press release

Friday, September 15, 2006

Five Points of Life Ride

Click for larger picture

Pictured are team members and guest speakers.
View all the photos

Yesterday was a moving experience for me as I had an opportunity to be part of a media event for the Five Points of Life Ride to promote organ, tissue and blood donation. Trillium Gift of Life Network and Canadian Blood Services both were present to support this wonderful initiative.

The Five Points of Life ride is a cycling event raising awareness of the neeed for five areas of lifesaving donations: Whole Blood, apheresis, bone marrow, cord blood, organs & tissues.

I met with members of the cycling team during their stopover at Toronto General Hospital and was overwhelmed by their dedication and ability to cycle all the way from Ottawa to Miami Beach, some 1500 miles. All were either recipients or donors in one way or another. Perry McGriff, co-founder of the Five Points of Life Ride, really impressed me. He is cycling with the team at age 69. It's got me wondering if there might be an opportunity for me in the future. I'm now motivated to get my bikes out and start training!

Team members will spend six weeks on bicycles, traveling from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to Miami's South Beach in Florida. Each team member, selected through an application process, has a personal story about how donation has impacted his or her life.

The Five Points of Life Ride consists of a small team of 8 cyclists and support crew. Each member is selected for their personal connection to one or more of the five points. The route crosses the country, with stops in communities along the way at activities and events hosted by local donor organizations. Team members meet with donors, patients, community leaders and media. School assemblies, donor drives, formal presentations, hospital visits, proclamations, and media interviews are key components of the ride.

Three support vehicles accompany the team serving as baggage carriers, repair shops, snack bars, and when storms occur, transportation. Visit the Five Points of Life web site for more information and a Map of the cycle

One in two Canadians will need blood for themselves or for close family members in their lifetime. One blood donation has the potential to save or improve up to three lives. Canadian Blood Services must recruit 80,000 new blood donors this year to meet the increasing hospital demand for blood.

Apheresis is a process that removes plasma and platelets — the blood component that controls bleeding- to treat heart surgery patients, and other patients with leukemia, cancer, aplastic anemia and in heart surgery. Platelets have a short shelf life of five days.

bone marrow
Each year, hundreds of Canadians need bone marrow transplants to treat potentially lifethreatening illnesses. Canadian Blood Services manages the Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry (UBMDR) in Canada with the exception of Quebec. Fewer than 30 per cent of these patients will be able to find a family member who has compatible bone marrow. In most cases, an unrelated donor is the only available source of bone marrow. Canada and the U.S. have a long history of cooperation.

cord blood
Umbilical cord blood contains a high concentration of stem cells at birth. Saving them offers another transplant option for people, especially children who have been diagnosed with leukemia, anemias and other disorders.

organs & tissues
4,000 Canadians are waiting for an organ transplant, including 1,755 men, women and children who live here in Ontario. Every three days, someone dies waiting for an organ transplant. While public opinion polling indicates four out of five Canadians support organ and tissue donation, consent rates are below 50 per cent.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Current events

Now that we're back at our desks after the summer break it's time to mark our calendars for the important organ donation and fund raising events scheduled for the remainder of the year. Please note the following and check the links for more information:

  • Labor Day Classic. Labor day has passed but we want to acknowledge the Hamilton Tiger Cat football team's support by providing a huge opportunity to promote organ donation awareness during the opening ceremonies of the game between Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton. See the photos

  • Five Points of Life Ride Cyclists will be traveling from Ottawa to Miami to raise donation awareness. Stops in Ottawa, Sept. 8/06, Toronto, Sept. 14/06 and London, Sept. 16/06. Please read the announcement and come out to support the riders if you can make it. Thanks.

  • Special presentation Wed., Sept. 27/06 at an open lung transplant support group meeting, Toronto General Hospital. Organizers of the Transplant Open golf fundraiser for lung transplant research will be presenting a substantial check to Dr. Shaf Keshavjee. Let's have a good turnout in support of Dr. Keshavjee and the lung transplant team at Toronto General Hospital.

  • Annual Bake & Craft Sale This annual fundraiser for the lung transplant program is Thursday, October 19, 2006 at Toronto General Hospital, Robert R. McEwen Atrium entrance (585 University Ave) 9:00AM – 5:00PM.

  • Annual Lung Transplant Xmas Party Wednesday, December 6, 2006 - 10AM to 2PM.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Five Points of Life Ride

Trillium Gift of Life Network, (TGLN) Ontario, Canada has announced they are pleased to support an exciting event being organized by Canadian Blood Services and a US organization called LifeSouth - The Five Points of Life Ride. Cyclists will be riding from Ottawa to Miami.

Special events will take place as riders pass through the Canadian cities of Ottawa Ottawa (Sept. 8th), Toronto (Sept. 14th) and London (Sept. 16th) as described below. TGLN has asked for a good turnout to cheer the riders on to show support for donation and the cycling team. I'll be at the Toronto event.

The Five Points of Life Ride is an annual bike ride which is being launched from Canada for the first time this year and ends in Miami's South Beach where the team will be part of the keynote address at the 2006 American Association of Blood Banks meeting.

The ride's focus is to raise awareness for the five ways we can share life with others through donation of blood, apheresis, marrow, organ/tissue and cord blood. The cycling team consists of amateur cyclists who each have a personal connection to one or more of the Five Points as donors, recipients or in some cases, both.

The team acts as messengers for the program sharing their experiences and the reason why it is so important to donate. As they travel along the route, they stop at events arranged by local donor organizations to share their stories and, hopefully, inspire more people to become donors. Riders come as far away as South Africa and events range in terms of size, location and spirit.

You can read more about the event at: Five Points of Life

Here is a list of events taking place during the Ontario leg of the ride.

Ottawa has been selected by LifeSouth as the official kick-off site for the ride!
Date: Friday, September 8th

Time: 10am - 11am

Location: Parliament Hill - by the main steps

Event Details: Speakers from LifeSouth, Canadian Blood Services, Trillium Gift of Life and local politicians and VIPs will be on hand to cheer on the cyclists as they embark on their journey across Ontario and the US. Volunteers are asked to come out to help send off the cycling team in true Canadian style! You are encouraged to bring along your bikes so you can ride a portion of the ride through Ottawa - for as long or as short as you like. As this will be a media event, we hope that all of our volunteers in the Ottawa area can come with their bikes and bring along friends and family members who are also champions of donation and transplantation.


Date: Thursday, September 14th
Time: 10am - 11am

Location: Toronto General Hospital - Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Entrance (main entrance off of University Ave.)

Event Details: The cycling team will be dropping by TGH to speak about their experiences with donation and the Ride for Life. Frank Markel, TGLN President and CEO along with other speakers will emphasize the connection between organ and tissue and blood donation. TGLN would appreciate as many volunteers, friends and family as possible to come out to the event to show their support for donation and the cycling team.

Date: Saturday, September 16th
Time: 10am - 11am
Location: Canadian Blood Services Clinic - 840 Commissioners Road East

Event Details: The cycling team will be biking to the clinic to thank the blood donors for their generous donations. They will also be speaking about the connection between organ and tissue and blood donation. Dr. William Wall, Director of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program will be among the speakers talking about the critical need for organ, tissue and blood donation and Recipient and Donor quilts will be displayed. TGLN would appreciate as many volunteers, friends and families as possible to come out to the event to show their support for donation and the cycling team.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Organ Donation Awareness gets a big boost at the football game on Labor Day

The Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League hosted this annual classic matchup with the Toronto Argonauts. Tiger Cat management graciously provided Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) this venue to promote organ donation awareness.

Volunteers from TGLN, who were transplant recipients, donors or donor families, were issued special T-shirts and paraded onto the field to be recognized before the game started. See Photos. Other volunteers and their guests were also invited however only transplant recipients, donors and donor families took part in the on-field activities. Although the final score of the game was Toronto 40, Hamilton 6, the Tiger Cats deserve a big round of applause for their support of organ donation awareness.

Dr. Frank Markel, President and CEO, Trillium Gift of Life Network, was interviewed on the field before the start of the game and he very eloquently stressed the need for organ donation while the Jumbotron screen featured our group on the field and the sign your donor card message.

This event is another in the continuing recent initiatives by TGLN to boost organ and tissue donation awareness in Ontario. What really impressed me was how the TGLN staff showed their dedication by taking time from their Labor Day holiday to attend the event. In addition to Dr. Markel I spoke with TGLN management people Jennifer Tracey, Cailey Crawford and Brian Kellow.

The need for organ donation in Ontario is very clear from these statistics taken from Trillium Gift of Life's website. To date, 597 transplants have been performed in the Province and 1751 patients are still waiting for their "Gift of Life".

Year to date transplants performed by organ with the waiting list in brackets.

  • Liver - From Deceased Donors 101 (443)

  • Liver - From Living Donors 36 (incl. above)

  • Heart 51 (33)

  • Kidney- From Deceased Donors 181 (1138)

  • Kidney- From Living Donors 149 (incl. above)

  • Lung 56 (48)

  • Heart - Lung 1 (5)

  • Pancreas 2 (27)

  • Small Bowel 2 (5)

  • Kidney - Pancreas 18 (52)


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Have a nice Labor Day weekend!

I'm away from the computer for a few days to enjoy the last weekend of summer, doing such things as attending a family BBQ today and enjoying a football game on Monday. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too, in spite of the weather. Merv.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Health Canada Endorsed Important Safety Information on Rapamune (sirolimus)


Subject: New clinical study information has shown that the anti-rejection drug combination of Rapamune® (sirolimus), mycophenolate mofetil* and corticosteroids, in combination with interleukin-2 receptor antibody induction, is associated with an increased risk of acute rejection in new kidney transplant patients if used from the time of transplant.

Markham, ON, August 22, 2006 -
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Division of Wyeth Canada, in consultation with Health Canada, wishes to provide Canadian kidney transplant patients with new safety information regarding an increased risk of rejection in new kidney transplant recipients receiving a combination of anti-rejection drugs. Specifically this involves Rapamune®, mycophenolate mofetil, and corticosteroids, used in combination with interleukin-2 receptor antibody induction. This information was discovered in the course of two clinical studies conducted to determine if this combination therapy would provide better kidney function after transplantation.

The results of these two clinical studies have shown a higher rate of acute rejection in kidney transplant patients who received the investigational combination of drugs compared to patients receiving the usual standard therapy, which includes cyclosporine or tacrolimus, following kidney transplantation.

It is important to note that these results apply only to the specific combination of drugs studied in these clinical trials. In Canada, Rapamune® is authorized for the prevention of rejection only in patients who have received kidney transplants, and must be used in combination with other anti-rejection drugs (such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus) in the period immediately following transplantation. Such patients should continue to use Rapamune® as prescribed.

Patients taking Rapamune® should not discontinue or change their medication without discussion with their transplant physician.

Wyeth has sent a letter to transplant physicians informing them of this new safety information. A copy of the Healthcare professional letter and this communication are available on the Health Canada website.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wendy Olson's Passing


Please join me in expressing our condolences and deepest sympathy to Wendy's husband Robert and family. I took the above photo of Wendy shortly before her transplant and and she was a joy to talk to and so grateful for the opportunity to receive a "second chance" at life. She will be missed dearly.

I'm forwarding the following as received.

August 30, 2006
"Merv...It is with great sadness that I send this notice of Wendy Olson, my wife and best friends passing today at 5:40PM in the Renfrew Victoria Hospital.

Wendy had a double lung transplant June 4, 2004. Wendy's health was in decline since the beginning of this new year due to complications that could not be overcome. The doctors tried very hard to help her but it just was not to be. I will miss her so much as we have been together since we were childhood sweethearts 33 years ago. Many thanks for your support over the last few years.


Robert L. Olson"

Messages may be sent via e-mail to: Robert Olson

Note re visitation and funeral arrangements:

Wendy Olson will be at the Funeral Home of McPhail and Perkins at 85 Munroe Street East, in Renfrew Ontario (613) 432-2866. Visitations on Sunday Sept 3, 2006, 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm.

Funeral Services on Monday, September 4, 2006 to be held at St Paul's Anglican Church on Argyle St in Renfrew at 1 pm.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Trillium Gift of Life Network launches Celebrity Awareness Campaign with Opera Star, Measha Brueggergosman and the support of Ontario doctors, nurses and hospitals.

August 29, 2006 – Toronto, ON – Opera Star, Measha Brueggergosman and celebrities with ties to Ontario are showing their support for organ donation by lending their names and faces to the Celebrity Awareness Campaign launched today by Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) with the assistance of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).

“According to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey, 93 percent of Ontarians support organ donation. But we also know that the consent rate in this province is only 48 percent,” said Frank Markel, President and CEO of TGLN.

“The reason we hear time and again that eligible families don’t consent to donation is because they don’t know what their loved one would have wanted. This campaign is designed to change that. We want to get people talking about their organ donation wishes today. And we want to thank all of the celebrities who have joined us to make this such a great success, we are truly honoured to have them with us on this important mission.”

The Celebrity Awareness Campaign posters will appear in doctor’s offices, hospitals, in driver’s licence renewal envelopes, newspaper supplements, calendars, and will be available for downloading on the TGLN website.

Also added to the website today is a “Tell Your Story” section designed as a forum for the public to tell their story of why they spoke to their families about organ donation. “If you had the power in your hands to allow a blind man to see, to allow a dying child to live, to allow a person to never have to endure dialysis or insulin needles again - if you could improve the quality of life for others or even save a life, how could you possibly say no?” asked Sue Patterson, a donor mother from Barrie. “You need to talk to your family about your wishes today.”

Today in Ontario 1750 patients are on the transplant waiting list. Of those 1092 are men, 658 are women and 27 are children.

“I have been on the waiting list for lungs for over 13 months,” said Kitty Sayle, a nurse from Toronto. “A campaign to get people talking is important. Every person in this province needs to know there are so many people like me, waiting for a gift that will save our lives. I'm asking you. Right now. Go home. Talk to your family. Talk to your friends. Tell them your organ donation wishes. You need to know that a conversation could save a life. It could save a life like mine.”

Measha Brueggergosman, an Opera Star represented over 30 VIPs at the campaign launch in Toronto. “I wanted to be a part of this campaign because people are dying. There's no reason for it. Not when you can have a conversation and save someone's life. Talk to your family about your organ donation wishes. There's no reason not to. I did. Now it's your turn,” Brueggergosman said.

The Celebrity Awareness Campaign focuses on the conversation between loved ones about organ donation and includes great people like:

  • Andy Barrie

  • Roberta Bondar

  • Measha Brueggergosman

  • Tom Cavanagh

  • Don Cherry

  • Tom Cochrane

  • Carla Collins

  • Jim Connelly

  • Peter De Sousa

  • Sheila & Dr. Brenda Copps

  • David Cronenberg

  • Marilyn Denis

  • Dwight Drummond

  • Dave Foley

  • Kevin Frankish

  • Jian Ghomeshi

  • Dale Goldhawk

  • Ben Heppner

  • Norman Jewison

  • Reed Johnson

  • Lisa LaFlamme

  • Anne-Marie Mediwake

  • Colin Mochrie

  • Senator Vivienne Poy

  • Paul Shaffer

  • Kiefer Sutherland

  • Ted Woloshyn

  • Women of CTV - Ottawa

“I'm thrilled to participate in this campaign to raise awareness on talking to your family about organ donation,” said Dave Foley, an actor from Toronto. “If adding my face and name gets more people talking about this important topic then it’s a success.”

Celebrity Awareness Campaign launches are planned across the province throughout the fall, and the doctors, nurses and hospitals in Ontario have been key players supporting the initiative.

“As doctors we see first hand the life-saving impact organ donation can have on patients and the lifechanging impact it has on their families,” said Dr. David Bach, President of the OMA. “This campaign serves as an important catalyst to initiate awareness and discussion of organ donation for families in Ontario.”

“Increasing the rate of organ donation is one of the most important health issues in this province,” said Hilary Short, President and CEO of the OHA. “The OHA is committed to helping facilitate vital discussions about organ donations between loved ones by distributing Trillium Gift of Life Network posters to all of Ontario’s hospitals.”

“Nurses support families throughout the organ donation process,” said Mary Ferguson-Paré, President of the RNAO. “They see first-hand how lives are saved when families know their loved ones’ wishes. Talking about organ donation is a conversation everyone should have.”

If you are interested in receiving posters for your company/school/facility please contact us at 1.800.263.2833 or 416.619.2306.

“We have high hopes for this campaign,” said Markel. “We want people to talk to their families about organ donation and then we want them to come to our website and tell us why they thought it was important. It’s all about the conversation because it’s the conversation that can save a life.”

Trillium Gift of Life Network is responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating and supporting organ and tissue donation across Ontario and improving the system so that more lives can be saved. Sign your donor card. Talk to your family about your wishes.

For more details on Trillium Gift of Life Network please visit their website at Gift of Life.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mark your calendars - June 24, 2007

Mark your calendars for the 2007 annual lung transplant picnic. We are happy to announce that by booking 10 months in advance we were able to secure our preferred date of the Sunday after Father's Day, June 24, 2007.

Date: Sunday, June 24, 2007 at the same location as in the past years, Huron Park, Mississauga, Ontario, starting at 12 noon.

Location: 830 Paisley Blvd. W (between Queensway and Dundas St. W. west of Mavis.)

Browse photos from recent picnics: 2004 Photos, 2005 Photos and 2006 Photos

A big thanks to Peter Laurence for making the booking arrangements.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sara Murray Takes Gold at Transplant Games

Sara Murray, 29, won the gold for race walking, ball throw and shot put, and a bronze in volleyball at the Canadian Transplant Games this month in Edmonton, Alberta.

"Three years ago Sara Murray's lungs were so badly damaged from cystic fibrosis they were only functioning at 10 per cent capacity and she was told she had less than a year to live."

That's how a story by Lisa Tallyn grabs your attention in the August 25th issue of Georgetown, Ontario's The Independent & Free Press.

I am proud to say that I have met Sara many times during our recovery from lung transplants at Toronto General Hospital. Her accomplishments since receiving the "Gift of Life" adds to the growing list of people whose lives have been transformed by an organ transplant. You will enjoy reading her story.

Thanks to Diane Murray-Charrett (Karen Murray's sister) for alerting me to this article.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Overview of Lung Transplantation

Medscape Transplantation has published this excellent overview of lung transplantation. Go the the web site for the full article with references.

Overview of Lung Transplantation
For many patients with end-stage lung disease, lung transplant is the only option available, and it offers the chance for their quality of life to be significantly improved. In the adult, the vast majority of lung transplants are performed for 4 conditions: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (39%), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (17%), cystic fibrosis (16%), and alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (9%). Whenever possible, bilateral lung transplants are preferred; however, in cases of pulmonary fibrosis and selected cases of emphysema, single-lung transplants are acceptable and help to distribute needed organs to a larger population of critically ill patients. Because of the risk of infection and cross-contamination, unilateral lung transplants are contraindicated in patients with cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. Overall, an equal number of single- and double-lung transplants have been performed annually since 1995.

The benefit of lung transplantation comes in the form of both survival and quality of life. However, the benefit is not realized until 3 to 6 months following transplant and comes with up-front risk. Even in experienced transplant programs, operative mortality rates may be as high as 8% and 3month survival is approximately 84%. From 1992 to 2003, overall survival at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years was 74%, 58%, 47%, and 24%, respectively, with the average life expectancy following transplant just more than 3 years. In general, patients with COPD, emphysema, and cystic fibrosis fare better than those who received transplants for other conditions.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More stories and photos from the Canadian Transplant Games

The Canadian Transplant Association has posted reports and results from the Transplant Games in Edmonton this past August. Check out this site. You will recognize many of the competitor's names and I'm sure you will be as impressed as I was with the excellent performances. There's also a downloadable games Poster available.

An athlete so far known only as "John" has posted 288 excellent photos to his Games Photo Gallery

Media Coverage
Coverage was excellent as shown by these stories.

Edmonton Journal article on nine year old Jason Goutbeck one of the first Canadians to receive a living donor liver transplant (from his father).

Carla Borton tells her games story to the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal. Carla received a heart & double-lung transplant just 15 months prior to competing in the games.

The Whitehorse Daily Star published a story about Farley Hayes, a liver transplant recipient, who was the first Yukon'er to attend the National Transplant Games.

CBC News Aug. 8th, interview with Kathy Tachynsky a kidney recipient.

The Edmonton Journal in it's August 8th edition featured an article about Mark Black, a heart & double-lung transplant recipient who four years post transplant has already run in several marathon races.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Golf for Cystic Fibrosis Sept. 6th

J. M. Kropf Fall Classic for Cystic Fibrosis research
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Guelph Lakes Golf & Country Club
7879 Highway 124, Guelph, Ontario
For information: 519-843-4852

  • Cost: $150 per person

  • 18 holes of golf

  • Golf cart

  • Steak Dinner

  • Commemorative gift

  • Registration: 11:00 A.M.

  • Shotgun start: noon

  • Non golfers may support as sponsors or prize donors

Friday, August 18, 2006

Toronto General Hospital performs four-organ transplant

Gairett MacIver, 18, is recovering after a high-risk, four-organ transplant operation on Aug. 1 at Toronto General Hospital. Gairett now has a new bowel, liver, pancreas and stomach, all from the same donor. His parents and doctors say his success is nothing short of a miracle.

Bowel transplants are extremely uncommon. Though the first successful one was performed in 1988, they were virtually unheard of until about five or six years ago. Multiple organ transplants have a longer history, but procedures involving four organs are extremely rare and always dangerous.

A team of more than 20 doctors, critical-care workers and nurses are dedicated to Gairett's recovery.

Read the article by Toronto Star staff reporter Christopher Maughan in today's paper.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Karen Murray's Memorial Service

click for larger picture
I attended the memorial service for Karen Murray yesterday in Toronto and the church was almost packed to capacity. Karen obviously was very popular and had many friends. There was a good representation from the lung transplant community and I was able to get this picture of many of them. Unfortunately some had left before we did the photo shoot but here's a list of everyone that I recognized: Gerald Sutton and his wife Kathy Marceline, Jeannie Haines, Vickie Morley, Monica Henry's mother, Judy Postma, Mary Kanters and her husband Aldus Celmins, Peter Laurence, Gary Clodge, and Joette Kruger.

The speeches were very moving.

Judy Postma, a good friend of Karen's and herself a heart and double-lung transplant recipient, gave a wonderful speech about Karen and their friendship as they took their journies through the transplant process.

Karen's parents, Marilyn and Thom Murray expressed their thanks and gratitude to the Toronto General Hospital's lung transplant team for everything they did for Karen. Karen's and her family's feelings about the transplant program were reflected by having brochures and gift cards from the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation placed at the tables of condolences noting that as an expression of sympathy donations will be gratefully accepted to the Toronto General Hospital Foundation's Lung Transplant Program, 585 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2N2.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Karen Murray Memorial Service
Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 2:00 P.M.

The following obituary notice appears in Monday's Toronto Star. There is also an article and photo of Karen in the August 15, 2006 issue of The Toronto Star. The memorial service for Karen will be held at Immanuel Baptist Church (1100 Finch Avenue East, Toronto) (Finch & Don Mills).

KAREN MURRAY Peacefully, surrounded by her family, and after a life long battle with chronic lung disease, Karen Murray, born December 7, 1962, was called home on August 10, 2006. Karen is survived by her sons Brent Halayko, Justin Halayko, and Matthew Richardson, loving husband, Victor Chadi, her parents Marilyn and Thom Murray of Winnipeg, brother Rod Murray of Winnipeg, sister Alana Murray of Vancouver, sister Diane Murray-Charrett, brother-in-law Craig and nephews Thomas, Cameron, and Patrick of Georgetown. Also left to mourn Karen are her stepdaughter Victoria Chadi, brother-in-law Danny Chadi (Oriana, Cindia, and Nicolas), mother-in-law Argentina Chadi, very dear family friend Flor Villalobos, uncles and aunts: Don and Myra Johnson, John Wright, Dorothy Johnson, Hugh Murray, Angus and Norma Murray, Malcolm and Doreen Murray, and numerous cousins. Karen was predeceased by her grandparents, Paul and Murdina Johnson, aunt Deanna Wright, and uncle Rod Johnson.

Karen was born in Winnipeg on December 7, 1962. She graduated from Churchill High School in 1980. After a few years in the work force she decided to pursue a career in the media and began studies in the Creative Communications Program at Red River Community College. Her studies there included various internships at local newspapers and radio stations. In 1987 she made the jump to television where she was a news reporter for CKY-TV in Winnipeg. Two years later she decided to relocate to Toronto where she returned to writing for the Canadian TV trade journal Playback and particularly enjoyed being the Toronto correspondent for the Variety , the main trade journal of the American entertainment industry. She returned to the medium of television when she was hired by Citytv as a producer for the show Media Television and then SexTV a few years later. Whether in radio, newspaper, or television, Karen always had a passion for telling stories, which led her to begin creating documentary films. In 1997 she completed her first documentary film, Windows on the Asia Pacific; the Medium is the Masses. While working on a segment during her time with Citytv, Karen met and was inspired in many ways by John Dugdale, a blind photographer whose story Karen felt compelled to tell. Life's Evening Hour, Karen's second documentary, tells the story of John's struggle with HIV/Aids and blindness. In her third documentary film, Adventures in Breathing , Karen told the most personal story of all, that of her struggle with a chronic lung disease and life saving double lung transplant. This was followed with two educational films for others facing a transplant: A Patient's Perspective: Preparing for Transplant, and A Patient's Perspective: Recovering from Transplant. Not only were Karen's films an outlet for her very creative mind, but she was the recipient of numerous awards including recognition from the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology, a Certificate of Merit from Intercom, a video compettion associated with the Chicago Film Festival, and a nomination for Best Educational Program at the Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival. Her films have appeared at numerous film festivals in North America as well as on Bravo, and Discovery Health Canada.

Karen's love for life was as much a part of her as her beautiful smile. She lived life with great joy and determination. She was a warm and caring person who spread love and kindness to all around her. Her gratitude for being alive, and the desire to live just one more day stayed with her until the very end. The last 12 years of Karen's life were made so happy when she found her sweet Victor. The two shared a loving bond that will last an eternity. Those wishing to honour Karen's memory are encouraged to remember that you have the power to save lives. Sign your donor card today and tell your loved ones of your decision. A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 at 2 p.m. at Immanuel Baptist Church (1100 Finch Avenue East at Finch and Don Mills - phone 416-494-3155).
Condolences: R. S. Kane Funeral Home

Donations gratefully accepted to the Toronto General Hospital Foundation's Lung Transplant Program, 585 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2N2.