Trot­ting for trans­plants at third an­nual fundraiser

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - COMING UP - LISA GOUDY

Three years ago, An­gela Bird’s daugh­ter Sonny died be­cause she didn’t re­ceive a lung trans­plant.

Sonny, age 26, had been on the trans­plant list for lungs for more than a decade.

“She had dif­fer­ent an­ti­bod­ies and size was a huge fac­tor. She was tiny,” said Bird.

Sonny had cys­tic fi­bro­sis, a hered­i­tary ge­netic dis­ease mainly af­fect­ing the di­ges­tive sys­tem and lungs. She was hos­pi­tal­ized for the last time on Feb. 27, 2014.

“All her other or­gans were start­ing to shut down and she didn’t want to be on all those ex­tra ma­chines,” said Bird.

“She’s bet­ter now. She’s no longer suf­fer­ing. I couldn’t han­dle see­ing her suf­fer, but with her ex­pe­ri­ence, she knew what she wanted. She knew when that was the end. We knew when to pull the plug. It’s some­thing we had dis­cussed in ad­vance and we were quite pre­pared for it, as dev­as­tat­ing as it was.”

A year later in 2015, she heard about the first Trans­plant Trot be­ing or­ga­nized in Moose Jaw by the Gadd fam­ily to sup­port the Saskatchewan chap­ter of the Cana­dian Trans­plant As­so­ci­a­tion and to raise aware­ness about the im­por­tance of or­gan and tis­sue do­na­tion. Hav­ing known the Gadd fam­ily for many years, Bird knew she wanted to par­tic­i­pate.

Sun­day marked the third year of the an­nual walk/run in Wakamow Val­ley and Bird was one of the more than 150 par­tic­i­pants.

“The gift of life is some­thing that can’t be ex­pressed as far as I’m con­cerned,” she said.

“With­out the donors and the aware­ness peo­ple die. I lost my daugh­ter be­cause she didn’t re­ceive lungs. So you need this.”

Or­ga­nizer Kevyn Gadd has ex­pe­ri­enced the flip­side of what trans­plants can do. He was born with con­gen­i­tal heart dis­ease pul­monary hy­per­ten­sion, af­fect­ing his heart and lungs. He had heart surgery at the age of 2 and was taken off med­i­ca­tion af­ter surgery.

“It was some­thing that I was used to since I was born, but I couldn’t play any com­pet­i­tive sports. I couldn’t do a lot of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity,” said Gadd. “It got to a point where I could walk a block and just be ex­hausted.”

In 2012, he ended up back on med­i­ca­tions. He went with his sis­ter to Ed­mon­ton for a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment in 2013. There, doc­tors felt it was a good idea for a lung trans­plant, as he was at 33 per cent lung func­tion. Gadd went home on Feb. 8, 2014. Three weeks later, he got the call he’d been wait­ing for to get the trans­plant.

Three years later, Gadd re­mains healthy, now able to walk, run and play floor hockey.

Gadd stayed in Ed­mon­ton for three months af­ter the trans­plant, which is where he heard about, and watched, Ed­mon­ton’s Trans­plant Trot.

“We thought, ‘We could prob­a­bly do that in Moose Jaw,’ so we started as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Gadd. “Peo­ple don’t think about it and it can save lives. I’m proof of that. Be­cause some­one signed their card and wanted to be a donor, that’s why I’m here healthy and able to do things like this to­day.”

Last year the event raised $15,000, how­ever Gadd said the event isn’t as much about the money as it is about aware­ness.

“Peo­ple need to have con­ver­sa­tions about or­gan do­na­tion. It’s not just about putting that sticker on your health card,” he said. “Even though you’re an or­gan donor, your fam­ily could veto it if they’re not sure that’s what you wanted. So you’ve got to talk to your fam­ily about be­ing an or­gan donor.”

LISA GOUDY/TIMES-HER­ALD

Some of the up­wards of 150 par­tic­i­pants in the third an­nual Trans­plant Trot walk across the bridge in Wakamow Val­ley on May 28, 2017.

LISA GOUDY/TIMES-HER­ALD

An­gela Bird pre­pares for her walk in the third an­nual Trans­plant Trot .

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