Over 200 organ and tissue donors, recipients and their families gathered at the 2015 Transplant Trot, held on May 10 in Saskatoon.
Among them were four of the participants in the Offer Hope Campaign: Bonnie and Deb, Cheryl and Oliver.
“For me, organ donation saved my life,” says Cheryl, heart transplant recipient. “I’ve got two kids, and they’ve had a mother for the past 15 years thanks to organ donation. It not only saves lives, it keeps families and friends together.”
Sometimes, it even creates them.
Bonnie made the decision to donate her kidney to Deb before they had even met. Today they are good friends, and Deb is grateful for Bonnie’s gift.
“There’s always hope,” says Deb. “What happened to me was phenomenal, but it can happen to anyone. The more people, living or deceased, who are willing to donate, the more amazing they can make people’s lives.”
“You can do really well on one kidney. I’m living proof,” says Bonnie.
Dr. Mike Moser, kidney transplant surgeon, says donating a kidney is getting easier for donors like Bonnie.
“Donating a kidney as a live donor has gotten somewhat less onerous to the donor, because it can be done with keyhole surgery nowadays,” says Dr. Moser. “Instead of spending a week in hospital recovering with a very large incision, people are able to go home within a couple of days and recover a lot faster.”
“By giving an organ for transplant, you change a person’s life,” he adds. “It’s the greatest gift you can give a person.”
JoAnn Jones knows how important it is to donate. In 2014, she had a liver transplant.
“I had been getting really sick, but had no idea what the problem was,” JoAnn says. “Then all of a sudden, I was told I needed a transplant right away.”
After being told the waiting list was more than two years, JoAnn put the word out to her family that she needed a living donor, and her nephew stepped forward.
“He was a perfect match,” JoAnn says. “They took 70 per cent of his liver and transplanted it into me. He was left with 30 per cent, and it has since grown and regenerated. He’s now doing fabulously well.”
And so is JoAnn.
“In the last 15 months, I’ve had a much better life than I had in the past five years. I’m able to run and do all the things I couldn’t do before my transplant,” says JoAnn, a participant in the Transplant Trot’s 5k run. “My nephew is my hero. Because of him, I’m able to enjoy life.”