A donation like no other
Organ transplant recipients share their life-changing stories
Corey Winter has tried, on several occasions, to write a letter to the family of a man whose death allowed him to live. But how do you find words to thank those who have given you the opportunity to watch your young boys start school, throw a ball, shoot a puck?
Although his heart transplant took place over four years ago, Winter hasn’t yet found the right words to put on paper. Doing so will take time, he says. And, thanks to this generous family, Winter has plenty of time to find the words that keep eluding him.
“I know he was my age and that he died of a brain aneurysm. And I have a big regret that I haven’t contacted his family yet. I’ve tried many times and I’m sure I’ll get it out one of these days.”
Any contact would be made through the transplant organization in Ontario to protect the privacy and identity of both the donor family and the recipient.
Winter is originally from the Town of Centreville-Wareham-Trinity. He now lives in Gander with his wife Christine and their sons. Travis is 13. Phillip is eight.
Winter suffered from a rare genetic disease called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, more commonly known as ARVC.
The disease, which damages the heart muscle and replaces the muscle with fatty tissue, can cause early death. That’s happened to some of his relatives, Winter said, and his cousin recently underwent a heart transplant in Halifax.
“My cousin’s brother was the first one to die of ARVC and I was the first one to live through it,” the 40-year-old says.
Winter went into cardiac arrest for the first time in February 2000. An internal defibrillator implanted into his shoulder the previous year by cardiologist Dr. Sean Connors sent out an electrical impulse and restarted his heart.
“It would have been too late for me if I didn’t have the defibrillator.”
The defibrillator saved Winter’s life several times over the years. However, his health continued to deteriorate.
In 2006, Winter underwent surgery at the Heart Institute in Ottawa, where doctors used a
When I was born I had a disease called Bilary hypoplasia and it was very bad. The doctors said it would never get better.
When I was 8 years old they said I had to have a liver transplant but there wasn’t any one in my family a match for me.
One day a very nice lady named Christine heard about me and when she knew I needed a donor she said she would give me part of her liver.
We went to Toronto, I was in the hospital for Sick Children and Christine was in another hospital across the street and the doctors did the transplant.
Now I am well and my new liver is working perfect, Christine gave me back my life and that is why she is my HERO.
– Julia Anstey laser to burn off scar tissue from his heart.
He spent the fall of 2007 in hospital — both in St. John’s and in Toronto General Hospital.
“Things went downhill really quick. I was really sick. I was in the Intensive Care Unit. That’s where I spent Christmas.”