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