This week, people all over the country are celebrating National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week from April 22nd to 28th.
According to public opinion polls, although 90% of Canadians support organ donation, only 20% are signed up to become a donor themselves.
Here in Victoria, the David Foster Foundation – which helps support families with children waiting for a transplant – is reminding people of the importance of closing that gap.
“As a foundation with more than three decades of supporting families and championing registration across Canada, we’re using this one-week period to highlight the problem of the organ donor registration gap in our country,” says Michael Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation.
“From our website and social media channels to our major commuter billboard campaign, we’re asking Canadians, ‘Why is there such a big gap between people that support organ donation and people that are registered?’”
Stories from people who received organ/tissue donations
Local portrait photographer, Jack Adamson also took the time to document photographs and stories of people in Victoria who are alive today because of organ and tissue donations.
His work is a tribute to the victims and survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, and also an attempt to raise awareness for the importance of organ and tissue donations.
1. Laura and Nyssa
Laura (left) writes, “My incredible friend Nyssa (right) donated the entire right lobe of her liver to me in a life saving living donor liver transplant in Edmonton on March 22, 2017. I suffered from PSC – a rare, autoimmune liver & bile duct disease that has no treatment and no cure except liver transplant. She saved my life, gave my three daughters back their mother and my husband also got his wife back. We are both doing great a year later, and her selflessness and courage is something that continues to guide me every day. Nyssa is a hero. She literally saved my life. She deserves to win EVERY prize as far as I’m concerned!”
2. Tamara and Evanne
Tamara (left) writes, “I was 21 weeks pregnant, with Evanne (right), when it was discovered something was seriously wrong with her heart. I was 36 weeks pregnant when they listed her for a heart transplant. She was given no chance of survival if she was born without an available heart. Evanne managed to wait 5 weeks until her first heart was gifted to her. It was a beautiful heart that lasted almost 8 years, until Evanne had a sudden heart attack and lost 80% of her heart function and was once again, placed on transplant list. Amazingly, Evanne received her second gift of life, after just 2 weeks of waiting. The bravery of organ donation has allowed Evanne to experience many accomplishments and has allowed me the opportunity to be Mom to my best friend and the most beautiful soul. Without her selfless donor families, Evanne wouldn’t be here to lighten up a room when she enters it. I am forever grateful.”
3. Kim and Carol
Kim (right) writes, “When my dad passed away due to cardiac arrest at the tender age of 49, and a transplant team was not able save his life due to Victoria’s blizzard of 1996, my mother Carol (left) was motivated to become an organ donor.
15 years later, my mother’s heart had stopped and the loss of oxygen had caused irreversible damage. My mom died later that evening at the age of 61.
Because my mom had registered to be a donor, she was able to donate seven of her organs which gave seven people a 2nd chance at life. My mom was a wonderful woman who gave so much in life, and even in her death. Although I miss her every day, knowing that her organs have helped others in need and her wish was honoured, brings me peace.”
4. Beth and Tony
Beth (left) writes, “Transplant is a marathon, not a sprint. It took my husband Tony (right) 5 years to get a doctor to refer him for his double lung transplant. We waited 6 months for the first appointment and it took another 6 months to go through pre-transplant assessment. At 3 months, our time on the waiting list was short. We are now 2 years out and just now regaining our physical, emotional and financial footing. And my husband is here to rebuild.
Transplants cannot happen without an army of heroes at every step: family, friends and countless healthcare staff. It’s a journey that does not begin without the Donor and Families who say ‘yes’.”
5. Drew and Tobin
Tobin (right) writes, “I had been going through the donor screening for a friend who needed a kidney. I was a match and proceeded with the process, but in the end, they chose a different donor for my friend.
It had since come to light that my friend Drew, who also happened to be my former boss, also needed a kidney. So I started the process again, and with another match, I was able to donate my kidney to Drew in December 2016. Being able to donate my kidney to Drew was so rewarding, knowing how much I had improved someone else’s life.”
Drew (left) writes, “I had been on home dialysis for close to three years. But that all changed with a chance meeting with Tobin’s wife Lori while waiting in a ferry lineup.
Lori told us that Tobin had learned of my situation, and, having previously been accepted as a donor, had contacted the transplant team and offered to be a living donor for me. Our lives changed in an instant.
BC’s amazing Kidney Transplant Program kicked into gear, and within months I was the recipient of Tobin’s kidney. It was like a reboot for me. I hadn’t realized just how much kidney disease had slowed me down until I felt the return to health and a general sense of well being that the transplant gave me. I’ve never been so grateful to just feel normal, to wake up each morning eager to get on with the day. And I never stop thanking Tobin for his wonderful gift.”