During National Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Week and BeADonor month, we are sharing stories from within our hospital walls of the impact of organ donation. To register as an organ and/or tissue donor, visit www.mahc.ca/beadonor
Dr. Sheena Branigan has a genetic condition that ultimately leads to kidney failure. In fact, she is the fourth of her siblings to have received a pre-emptive (pre-dialysis) living donor kidney transplant.
“On October 29, 2021, my sister-in-law, in an act of selfless giving and strength, donated one of her kidneys to me; she now has one and I now have three! Life with a new filter is pretty awesome,” explains Dr. Branigan. “My family is very grateful for our good fortune to live in a place with such excellent resources. I have discovered that not all people who could benefit from such a life changing intervention know about it.”
She’s quick to balance the “tough ask” with recognition that “people do the most amazing things for each other.”
The Centre for Living Organ donation is at UHN. To learn more about living donation, visit https://www.uhn.ca/Transplant/Living_Donor_Program/Pages/default.aspx, email them at email@example.com or phone 416-340-5400.
Registered Nurse Makenzy Reid was scrolling her social feed when she came across a call for help. A high school friend was unwell with end stage liver failure and a transplant was needed.
“It couldn’t hurt to see if I’m a match,” Makenzy thought. “I’m young, I’m healthy. And I might be suitable.”
In some ways, Makenzy’s decision last June to donate part of her liver for her friend’s transplant was that simple. The more complicated part, she felt, was explaining it to others. She often is met with the response, “I couldn’t do that.”
Meanwhile today, eight months after the surgery, Makenzy counters with, “I would still do it again.”
Her liver has regenerated and her friend’s labs have almost normalized to a new lease on life.
“Time is something we can’t buy and I was able to give it,” says Makenzy. “When you see the difference you can make, this is something we can do. It’s not as scary as some may think.”
Makenzy is proud to spread the word that organ donation can save up to eight lives, and many more through tissue donation. In death, she says, it gives meaning to an end where someone else can live on through a legacy of what an organ donor has given — the priceless gift of time, and in some cases, like her friend’s — life altogether.
“She’s doing better and it’s worth it.”
Registered Practical Nurse Cierra Smyth has been open about her story of living donation, telling it to local media in December 2021. Read her story.
Cierra’s story highlights yet another avenue for organ donation through the Kidney Paired Donation program. Cierra’s decision to donate her kidney to a stranger ultimately saved her friend from acute kidney failure.
“I remember seeing it on Grey’s Anatomy and thought that it would take a lot of work,” she says. And it was. “The actual process is a big commitment to ensure you are healthy to be a donor, But it was all worth it.”
Today, Cierra says sometimes she forgets that she now has one kidney.
“As a donor, it’s not as big of a lifestyle change as people think compared to someone getting their life back,” adding she has had minimal impacts nor lives with many restrictions.
But for her friend, the impact has been huge – moving forward new chapter in life and
All of the living kidney donation programs in Canada can be found at www.blood.ca.
Charlotte Bastedo and Suzanne Fenn have worked side by side at the hospital for two decades. It was just like any other shift until Sue jokingly asked Charlotte, “Want to donate your kidney to my brother in law?” Sue and other family members had been unsuccessful to proceed through the process, but Charlotte quickly replied, “Why not? I have two.” And from five simple words a course was set into action that would bring the nursing colleagues even closer together while also changing a life.
Following thorough investigation through screening, paperwork and rigorous testing, donor and recipient were determined to be a match and last November the pair was in the operating room only an hour apart from each other to facilitate the excision and the transplant. Charlotte’s donated kidney started working right away, and on all accounts, the procedure was a success.
From a valiant decision and not a single regret, she is quick to declare that knowledge is power and it’s all about “getting the knowledge out” about the impact of organ and tissue donation, whether living or through a legacy at death.
Sue adds, “Through Charlotte’s selfless act, a living donor has changed the quality of life for my brother in law forever.”