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 www.giftoflife.on.ca 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 systems...read 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. Mraovic...read 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).