Im­por­tant to dis­cuss or­gan do­na­tion, says co-or­di­na­tor

The Compass - - OPIN­ION -

A full life

Win­ter was placed on the trans­plant list on Christ­mas Eve.

A heart be­came avail­able less than two weeks later. The trans­plant took place on Jan. 4, 2008.

Win­ter re­mained in hospi­tal about three weeks af­ter the surgery and in the Toronto area for sev­eral months. With time he be­gan to feel bet­ter. He now lives life to the fullest and works as a heavy equip­ment me­chanic at Gan­der In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

He’ll con­tinue to take anti-re­jec­tion drugs his en­tire life, but that’s a small price to pay for hav­ing his life back.

He’ll tell his story when­ever asked, he says, as a way to en­cour­age oth­ers to be­come or­gan donors.

‘Liver sis­ter’

Del­phine An­stey of Twill­ingate is also will­ing to share her fam­ily’s story to en­cour­age oth­ers to do­nate or­gans.

In Oc­to­ber 2004, An­stey’s grand­daugh­ter Ju­lia An­stey re­ceived a por­tion of a liver that the fam­ily say saved her life. Ju­lia was 10 years old at the time of the trans­plant.

Her donor, Chris­tine Smith, who Ju­lia now calls her “liver sis­ter,” heard that Ju­lia needed a new liver and of­fered her part of her own.

Ju­lia says there are no words to thank some­one for such a gift.

“I don’t know what I would have done with­out her. I wakes up ev­ery day say­ing, ‘Thank God I’m still alive,’” the 18-year-old says.

An­stey echoes her grand­daugh­ter’s grat­i­tude to­wards Smith. It was dev­as­tat­ing when they learned that no­body in Ju­lia’s fam­ily was a match as a donor, she says.

With­out Smith, she says, she doesn’t be­lieve her grand­daugh­ter would have sur­vived.

“I don’t think any­one can truly un­der­stand why some­one would do this for some­one not re­lated. It’s a com­plete act of un­selfish­ness,” An­stey says.

Smith is orig­i­nally from Twill­ingate, but re­cently moved to Grand Falls-Wind­sor. She was liv­ing in her home com­mu­nity when she heard that Ju­lia was very sick.

When Smith found out that she and Ju­lia shared the same rare blood type (O-neg­a­tive) she im­me­di­ately of­fered to be the donor, and says she has never looked back.

While re­cov­ery from the surgery was painful, Smith says, there’s no bet­ter feel­ing than know­ing you’ve likely saved a life.

“If I never do any­thing else in my life, I know I’ve done some­thing good,” she says.

A grow­ing list

San­dra White, pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor for the prov­ince’s Or­gan Pro­cure­ment and Ex­change Net- work, says ap­prox­i­mately 4,500 Cana­di­ans are cur­rently on the trans­plant list.

The list is in­creas­ing, she says, but the num­ber of donors re­mains about the same.

Be­tween 60-70 peo­ple from this prov­ince are wait­ing for kid­ney, liver and pan­creas trans­plants.

This prov­ince does not keep a list of those wait­ing for heart and lung trans­plants as the ma­jor­ity of these pa­tients are liv­ing in the area where the trans­plant will take place, and are reg­is­tered in that area.

Not every­one who dies do­nate their or­gans.

White says in this prov­ince the only time or­gans can be do­nated is when some­one has suf­fered com­plete and ir­re­versible loss of all brain func­tion and is de­clared brain dead.

Peo­ple can also do­nate corneas, White says, in­clud­ing peo­ple who die of car­diac ar­rest.

can

Of­ten re­ferred to as “the win­dow of the eye,” corneas can re­store sight in some­one who has dis­ease or in­jury to their cornea. Cornea trans­plants have a 95 per cent suc­cess rate.

Af­ter spend­ing the week of April 24-28 pro­mot­ing Or­gan Donor Aware­ness Week, White will con­tinue to get the mes­sage out about the im­por­tance of peo­ple not only sign­ing a donor card and hav­ing their in­ten­tions stated on their driver’s li­cense, but also talk­ing to their fam­ily about their end-of-life de­ci­sions.

“Dis­cussing your wishes with your fam­ily is very im­por­tant so your wishes can be re­viewed and ad­dressed at the time of death,” she says.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Or­gan Pro­cure­ment and Ex­change Net­work, call 709-777-6600 or toll free 1-877-640-1110.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Sub­mit­ted photo

Gan­der res­i­dent Corey Win­ter (left) was the re­cip­i­ent of a heart trans­plant four years ago. He is shown here with his son Travis, wife Chris­tine and son Phillip. Their dog Har­ley is also a big part of the fam­ily.

Sub­mit­ted photo

This 2009 photo shows Chris­tine Smith (left) and Ju­lia An­stey cut­ting a cake to mark the fifth anniversary of Ju­lia’s liver trans­plant. Smith do­nated part of her liver to Ju­lia.

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