Friday, June 29, 2007

UK Smoking Ban Kicks in This Weekend

This is good news for UK residents and tourists visiting Britain who are concerned about breathing in second-hand smoke, including lung transplant recipients and those suffering from respiratory illnesses.

As of July 1st the whole of Britain will be smoke free in all enclosed public spaces and workplaces, including pubs, bars, restaurants, gig places and cafés as England joins Scotland and Ireland who already operate bans.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

UHN Global Impact Awards

Leading lights of lung transplantation and thoracic surgery honored by Toronto's University Health Network with their Global Impact Award on June 20, 2007

It was my great honor to participate in the ceremonies for this year's UHN Global Impact Awards by speaking as a grateful lung transplant recipient.

Awarded every year since 2004, the awards recognize the physicians and scientists throughout the history of University Health Network (UHN) for their creative discoveries in medical science that have had major impact worldwide.

This year’s awards were given to Dr. Joel Cooper who was the first surgeon in the world with his team to successfully perform a single and then a double lung transplant, and to Dr. Griffith Pearson, whose work with diseases of the trachea, esophagus and thorax led to many innovations now used around the world. That's me between Dr. and Mrs. Cooper with Dr. and Mrs. Pearson on the for larger view
Dr. Joel Cooper performed the world's first successful single-lung transplant on Tom Hall, November 7, 1983. In 1986 Dr. Cooper and his team performed the world's first successful double-lung transplant.

Dr. Griffith Pearson, an appointee of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest honor for lifetime achievement, achieved international recognition as a surgeon, researcher and educator. Dr. Pearson played a key role in the establishment of thoracic surgery as a medical discipline. Toronto was one of the first programs in the world to split off the thoracic component from the larger field of cardiothoracic surgery, allowing surgeons the dedicated time and energy to study lung cancer and other thoracic procedures separately from the heart.

I first met Dr. Cooper several years ago when he took the time to describe the operation on Tom Hall who suffered from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), the same disease I had and he has been my hero ever since. Because of his pioneering efforts thousands of lives have since been saved by a lung transplant.

Read the full story in UHN's News Release.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

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Monday, June 25, 2007

A nice day for a picnic

click for larger view Sunday, June 24, 2007 turned out to be perfect for the annual lung transplant bbq & picnic at Huron Park in Mississauga, Ontario. This is a photo of most of the patients and their families, friends and support people that attended. All of the photos that I took are posted to my Gallery.

I want to thank all who pitched in to help with the set-up and take-down and especially thank Joan Stibbard, Dorothy Webster, Bob Webster and Tony Brammall without whose help the picnic would have not been a success.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

FDA Approves New Orphan Drug for Treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

June 15, 2007 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved Letairis (ambrisentan) for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare, life-threatening condition characterized by continuous high blood pressure within the arteries of the lungs.

"Letairis represents a valuable addition to the treatment alternatives for this orphan disease," said John Jenkins, M.D., director of FDA's Office of New Drugs. "Letairis is similar to an existing drug, but offers the potential for fewer drug interactions."

In pulmonary arterial hypertension, the small arteries in the lungs become narrowed or blocked, and the heart must work harder to pump the blood through them. Over time, the overworked heart muscle may become weak and lose its ability to pump enough blood through the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, dizzy spells and fainting. About 100,000 people in the United States have pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Letairis, a new drug not previously approved in the United States, was granted a priority review by FDA. A priority review designation is intended for those products that address unmet medical needs. For priority drug applications, FDA sets a target date of six months after the date of receipt for the agency to complete all aspects of a review and to take action.

The safety and effectiveness of Letairis were demonstrated in two international clinical trials involving 393 patients. Letairis significantly improved physical activity capacity compared with a placebo, as shown by a six-minute walk, a standard test. Letairis also delayed the worsening of the pulmonary hypertension.

The most common side effects in patients using Letairis included swelling of legs and ankles, nasal congestion, sinusitis, and getting red in the face (flushing).

Letairis should not be used by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant because the drug may cause birth defects. Patients taking Letairis must have monthly blood tests to check for potential liver injury.

Letairis will be available in five-milligram and 10-milligram once-daily tablets.

Letairis was granted orphan drug status by FDA because it treats a rare disease and meets other criteria. Orphan designation qualifies the drug's sponsor for a tax credit and marketing incentives.

Letairis is manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc., Foster City, Calif. Gilead acquired the U.S. rights to ambrisentan when it acquired Myogen, Inc. in 2006. GlaxoSmithKline holds rights to ambrisentan outside of the United States.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute –
What is Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension?

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This coming Sunday, June 24th is the Lung Transplant BBQ & Picnic

click for larger view
Planning on coming to the picnic? Please provide the information requested below as soon as you can. We need your information for name badges and to order the supplies. If you can’t decide right now because of health or other reasons please feel free to come at the last minute. We will register you on site and will have extras for late arrivals. Thanks, Merv.
(if you’ve already responded, thanks!)

The annual picnic is Sunday, June 24 at the same location as in the past years, Huron Park, Mississauga, starting at 12noon.

  • Location: 830 Paisley Blvd. W (between Queensway and Dundas St. W. west of Mavis. (photos from past picnics: 2004 Photos, 2005 Photos and 2006 Photos).

  • Please respond to me by E-mail or phone me (Merv Sheppard) at 519-746-1444. (Brochures are available at Toronto General Hospital in the Treadmill Room, 12floor clinic area and the Pulmonary Function Lab)

  • Volunteers will be needed to help set-up & take-down on the day of the picnic. If you can help before or after please let me know by email or phone 519-746-1444. If helping to set up please arrive by 11am. Thanks, Merv.

  • Let us know the names of the individuals in your party for name badge purposes. Include the name of your organization if you are representing one.

  • If you are a pre or post-transplant recipient please let us know this and the date and type of your transplant (double-lung, single-lung or heart & lung) for the name badge.

  • Bring your own lawn chairs, coolers and beverages.

  • Bring a pot-luck accompaniment such as a salad, desert, rolls, snacks or whatever else you prefer.

  • We will provide hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, condiments, plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, etc.

  • Let us know how many each of hot dogs, sausages and hamburgers your party will require.

  • Vegetarian? If you prefer a vegetarian burger, hot dog, etc. please bring your own and we will BBQ it for you.

  • A donation will be collected to help defray expenses.

  • If you are on oxygen please make sure you have an adequate supply.

  • RESTROOMS are a 5 minute walk or a few seconds car ride to clean, indoor facilities at the recreation center. There are no portables on site, which is just as well since we have to be so vigilant about sanitation.

  • Please respond to me ASAP but no later than June 21st.
    E-mail or phone me (Merv Sheppard) at 519-746-1444. (Brochures are available at Toronto General Hospital in the Treadmill Room, 12floor clinic area and the Pulmonary Function Lab)

The BBQ is a great opportunity to socialize with others in the transplant community and is open to pre and post-lung transplant recipients, their supports, friends, families, the transplant team, hospital staff and related parties. I'm looking forward to seeing you there! Merv.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Friday, June 15, 2007

Official Opening of Latner Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory

On June 14th, 2007 I had the privilege of attending the opening of the Latner Thoracic Research Laboratory in Toronto. The new, state of the art facilities in the MaRS Discovery District were made possible by a grant from the Latner family of Toronto.

That's me in the center along with Anne Barbetta, double lung transplant recipient. I'll add the scientists names when I'm sure of the spelling. For all of the photos I took please go to my photo gallery.

click for larger view
Director of the laboratory, Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, world renowned for his work in lung transplantation, arranged for guided tours where some of the world's leading scientists gave us an overview of their work and experiments, which is truly exciting and groundbreaking.

Their major project is gene therapy in lung transplantation where they are working on techniques to genetically modify the donor lung so that it is better able to deal with the stress imposed upon it by the transplantation process.

This could lead to an increase in the availability of useable donor lungs and get more patients off the waiting list to receive their life-saving transplant. Right now, only about 2 of every 5 donor lungs turn out to be viable for transplantation.

The scientists are also using gene therapy to grow tissue, and hopefully someday new lungs entirely.

I came away from the experience realizing that when I'm fundraising for lung transplant research, it's not just for money to further and advance the research but what it all achieves eventually is that it saves lives, just as mine was saved by a single-lung transplant 5 years ago.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Reminds Ontarians to sign donor cards and speak to families as 1085 men on waiting list

June 14, 2007 – Toronto, ONTrillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) is honoring Father’s Day by reminding families that this occasion is an opportune time to sign their donor cards and speak to their families about their wishes.

“As you are heading out for a game of catch with your dad, wrapping up a gift or driving home to family, please take a moment to think about another kind of gift, the gift of life,” said Frank Markel, President and CEO of TGLN. “Right now in Ontario there are 1085 men on the organ donation waiting list. Every one of these men could be a friend, an uncle, or even a father or grandfather, and every one of these men continues to wait for the gift that will save his life.”

Today in Ontario, 1743 patients are on the transplant waiting list. Of those, 1085 are men, 629 are women and 29 of those patients are children.

“Before my surgery the thought of ever being a father was unthinkable. Today, because of my heart transplant, I am celebrating my first Father’s Day,” said 33 year-old Eddie Sabat from Woodbridge, Ontario. “My daughter was born just a few days ago –she is amazing. Without my transplant my wife and I would never have known the joy of having children and I am so thankful. I want to remind people, on this special day, that there are lots of dad’s like me out there – please, take a moment, sign your donor card and speak to your family today – I’m living proof that you can save lives.”

Everyone is a potential organ and tissue donor. The oldest Canadian organ donor to date was over 90 years of age while the oldest tissue donor was 102. Ultimately the ability to become an organ and tissue donor depends on several factors including the health of the organs and tissue at the time of death.

Even if you have signed a donor card or are registered as a donor, doctors will still ask your family before recovering organs or tissue.

“You can express your wishes to become an organ and tissue donor by signing a donor card and talking to your loved ones,” said Markel. “It's critical to share your decision with your family, as they will be asked for final consent to donate your organs after your death. Discuss your intentions with them this Father’s Day and give them a copy of your signed donor card so they can understand, support and respect your wishes in the future.”

Trillium Gift of Life Network is a not-for-profit agency of the Government of Ontario and 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 our website or call 416.363.4001 or toll free 1-800-263-2833.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Monday, June 11, 2007

Transplant Open for lung transplant research a huge success

click for larger view
Peter Laurence, chair of the golf committee, states preliminary figures show that approximately $29,000 was raised for lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital.

The tournament, held June 7th at Granite Ridge Golf Club in Milton, ON was our 3rd annual and the money raised exceeded last year's $20,000 by $9,000. Thanks go to our many supporters, sponsors and participants who played golf, donated cash and prizes and took part in the very successful silent auction. A highlight of the day was an excellent overview of lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital given by the Director of the Lung Transplant Program Dr. Shaf Keshavjee.

I was proud to be part of the committee and I have to say how impressed I was with the talent and dedication of committee members Peter Laurence, Kim Cassar, Carol Devlin and Tracey Jack.

The photos I took are posted at the golf gallery. If you have pictures to add I will be pleased to include them. Merv.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Click Here to Obtain a Donor Card

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Final call - Transplant Open Golf June 7th

Transplant Open Golf
Thursday, June 7, 2007

If you are planning to golf or come for dinner and haven’t registered yet we need your response immediately to give final figures to the golf club – thanks.

Thanks go to all who participated in last year’s tournament in which we raised $20,000 for lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital. We hope to do even better this year and we need help once again from both old and new friends of the tournament. If you unable to golf, you can still come for the dinner and silent auction; or you can help by donating a gift or by making a financial contribution. If you haven’t already registered you can do so by sending me an email. Please include names of everyone in your group. Payment can be made at the golf club the day of the tournament. (Visa, Amex & Master Card accepted - Make cheques payable to Toronto General & Western Hospital Fdn.) See you there?

  • Thursday, June 7, 2007

  • Granite Ridge Golf Club, Milton, Ontario (Hwy 401 & 25)

  • Web site: Granite Ridge Golf Club

  • 9503 Dublin Line, Milton, ON 905-794-0201 / 1-877-465-3126

  • Registration: 11am - first tee offs start at 11:30 am

  • Cost: Golf, Cart, Lunch, Dinner & Putting Contest $200 per person

  • Cost: Dinner only: $60 (dinner is at 6:30pm)

  • Two hole-in-one contests!

  • 2-year lease of a vehicle donated by Whiteoak Ford Lincoln.

  • $10,000 donated by K. P. Scharfe Insurance Brokers Ltd.

  • Silent Auction!

  • An exciting silent auction with many great prizes.

More info: email Merv Sheppard.
Photo Gallery 2006 Tournament

Friday, June 01, 2007

$30,000 plus raised for lung transplant research

Breathe in Life Walk raises more than $30,000 in it's first annual event

Two and a half years ago Anne Barbetta's life was saved by a double-lung transplant. She was so grateful that she immediately started thinking of ways to "give back" and came up with the idea of a walk to raise money for lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital. I was happy to help Anne promote the event and my heartfelt thanks go to my many sponsors whose donations made a big contribution to the amazing total raised, especially since this was a first time event. But I'll let Anne tell the story in her own words:

"I cannot begin to convey my heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in the first annual Breathe in Life Walk, which was held on May 27, 2007 at Fairy Lake in Newmarket (Ontario). Thankfully, the weather cooperated and over 100 participants celebrated the gift of life by walking 1km or 5km around beautiful Fairy Lake. I expect that pictures will be posted on the TGH Team for Transplant web site within the next two weeks.
Merv's note: my photos are already posted to my gallery Breathe in Life.

Although I can not yet tell you the exact amount raised because donations are still coming in, I am thrilled to inform you that well over $30,000 was raised! The success of the inaugural Breathe in LIfe Walk can be directly attributed to the tremendous support that each of you made either by participating, raising donations, or by sponsoring an individual or team. I am completely overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of those who made donations and by the unwavering commitment of those who participated to raise as much money as they possibly could.

As you know, one hundred percent of the net proceeds will benefit lung transplant research at Toronto General Hospital. Together, we are going to ensure that essential funding is provided for the world renowned surgeons and physicians who are responsible for making Toronto General Hospital one of the top transplant centres in the world. All of your efforts are certainly going to make a significant difference in the lives of many Canadians.

Congratulations to everyone who made this event such a great success. Special thanks to one of my heroes, Merv Sheppard, who promoted the Breathe in LIfe Walk tirelessly and raised $1000 as well! There is a famous quote which reads, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take, but rather, by the moments that take our breath away." Thank you all for making this event one of those moments for me!

I look forward to seeing everyone at Fairy Lake next year for an even bigger and better event! With gratitude always, Anne Barbetta."

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

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