Thursday, April 25, 2013

Canadian Government supports National Transplant Research Program

New program to enhance the survival and quality of life of Canadians needing organ and tissue transplants

Ottawa, ON  — Canadian transplant patients have new hope as the Government today announced the launch of a new national transplantation research program that will develop new knowledge and health care practices that address barriers to tissue and organ donation and will improve health outcomes for transplant recipients in Canada. The Honorable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health made the announcement at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. The Minister was joined by Dr. Lori West, Director of the new Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP), and Hélène Campbell, a double lung transplant recipient and co-founder of the Give 2 Live Campaign.

"Our Government recognized the need for a national program to help Canadians who have received or who are waiting for tissue and organ transplants," said Minister Aglukkaq. "That is why we committed to fund this research program and we are delivering on this commitment to Canadians. This program will provide important information to guide the development of policies and programs that increase tissue and organ donation in Canada and enhance the survival and quality of life of Canadians who receive transplants."

The CNTRP brings together over 105 investigators across 9 provinces. The program will transform the field of transplantation by addressing the barriers to donation therefore increasing the number of available organs, improving the quality and viability of donated organs and grafts, and enhancing long-term survival and quality of life of transplant patients. The CNTRP is the first program in the world to unite and integrate the solid organ transplant, bone marrow transplant and the donation and critical care research communities together in a groundbreaking national research endeavour.

"The transplant and donation communities across Canada have come together to create a truly unique collective research program that will foster innovation, creativity and collaboration in new ways that will increase our ultimate effectiveness" said Dr. Lori West, Director of the CNTRP and Professor of Pediatrics, Surgery and Immunology at the University of Alberta. "This integration will improve donation and transplant programs across the country and will impact the lives of transplant patients and those awaiting transplant".

"Canadian transplant centers and organizations are working together, for patients like me", said Hélène Campbell, double-lung transplant recipient and organ donation advocate. "The results of this program will be groundbreaking for all patients".

Funding for this program is being provided through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in partnership with Canadian Blood Services, Canadian Liver Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, Genome British Columbia, and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The Canadian Government remains focused on four priorities, as outlined by Prime Minister Harper, that Canadians care most about: their families, the safety of our streets and communities, their pride in being a citizen of this country, and of course, their personal financial security.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Give the gift of life — Facts on organ donation

April is National Donate Life Month, an opportunity to renew the commitment to save lives through organ and tissue donation. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerk Association, and many Kentucky hospitals are hosting events to recognize the importance of donation.
Though nearly 1.3 million Kentucky residents over 18 have joined the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry, we can do better. The need for organ and tissue donors is on the rise and is a public health crisis.
How many people are waiting for an organ transplant?
More than 117,000 people nationally, including more than 919 in Kentucky, are currently waiting for an organ transplant. About 134 people are added to the waiting list each day — one every 10 minutes.
Although approximately 77 organ transplants take place every day, on average, 18 patients die each day while waiting because the organ they needed did not become available in time.
At UK HealthCare, 155 patients received organ transplants in 2012, with many of these patients receiving multiple organs.
What is the difference between organ and tissue donation?
Organ donation involves the transplantation of solid organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas. However, tissue donation is also extremely important. More than 1 million tissue transplants are done nationally each year, and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising.
Examples of tissue that can be donated include skin, bone, heart valves, blood vessels, and even corneas. These donated tissues can make a huge difference in the quality of life for many patients.
What is "living donation"?
While most donations will take place after the donor is deceased, it is possible for a living person to donate some organs or tissues. The most common is living kidney donation — because humans have two kidneys, it is possible for a person to donate one kidney. Additionally, lobes of the liver or lungs can be given by a living donor. Tissues that can be donated by a living donor include skin, bone marrow and blood stem cells.
Most living donations take place between family or close friends, but sometimes they do take place between complete strangers.
How can I become an organ donor?
The best way to become an organ donor is to join the Organ Donor Registry. You can do this at the DMV when you renew your driver's license, or join online anytime at
A single donor can save or improve the lives of more than 50 people through organ and tissue donation. It only takes minutes to join the registry, and your decision could give the gift of life to a patient in dire need.
UK HealthCare and KODA will celebrate this month with an exhibit from 5-8 p.m. on April 19 at Lexington Central Library during the Gallery Hop. The exhibit features life-size canvases created by eight UK transplant recipients that showcase their journey and honor their donors.
Dr. Andrew Bernard is the chair of the Organ Donation and Transplantation Action Council at UK Healthcare.
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Friday, April 05, 2013

Fundraiser for double-lung transplant expenses

Dinner and auction in honor of double-lung transplant patient scheduled

Karen Gearheart is awaiting a lifesaving double-lung transplant, and the costs are overwhelming.
Gearheart, 54, has faced health problems since age 1, when she was diagnosed with asthma, which has also afflicted her father, brother and three children. She was diagnosed with emphysema in 2004, and she learned she was also suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) shortly thereafter. In 2011, she underwent a tracheotomy, and she relies on an oxygen tank 24 hours a day and a ventilator to sleep.

To help alleviate the financial burden, Gearheart turned to the National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) for assistance with some of these financial burdens. NFT is a nonprofit organization that helps patients raise funds to pay for transplant-related expenses.

A double-lung transplant costs approximately $800,000. Even with health coverage, she faces significant expenses. She will need follow-up care and daily anti-rejection medications for the rest of her life. Post-transplant medications are very costly, and they are as critical to her survival as the transplant itself.

“Can you imagine literally struggling for every breath?” said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant. “It breaks my heart to think about it, but that’s the reality for Karen. At NFT, we’re dedicated to helping these volunteers raise the necessary funds so Karen can focus on her health without constantly worrying about the medical expenses.”
On Saturday, April 13 at noon, volunteers are holding “Karing for Karen,” a barbecue dinner and silent auction in Gearheart’s honor.
The event will be held at Scooter’s Ice House, 1134 N. Main St. in Pearland. Barbecue plates will cost $8 and include sausage, beans, potato salad and bread.
Raffle tickets will be sold for $10 apiece, and the winner will receive a barbecue pit valued at $300. A silent auction will include more than 40 items valued between $25 and $450. A DJ with Bayou City Entertainment will provide music.
Kids’ activities will include face painting, moon bounce, temporary tattoos. Sweet & Sassy will also be on hand to provide manicures and up-dos.
For more information, contact Brittney Canales at 713-828-7647 or
To make a tax-deductible donation in honor of Gearheart, please send a contribution to the NFT Ohio* Transplant Fund, 5350 Poplar Ave., Suite 430, Memphis, TN 38119. Please be sure to write “in honor of Karen Gearheart” on the memo line. Secure donations also can be made online at Donors should click on “Patients We Help” to locate Gearheart.
*Gearheart resides in Ohio, but her sister and niece live in the Pearland area and are planning this event.
About NFT
NFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that has been helping transplant patients overcome financial obstacles since 1983. NFT provides fundraising expertise and advocacy to transplant patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $60 million to assist patients. NFT assists more than 1,200 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide. For more information about NFT, please call 800-489-3863 or visit

“You Have the Power to Donate Life – Sign-up today! Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”