LONDON HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE LONDON TAP AMBASSADORS

greg wilkinson for transplant ambassador program

Greg Wilkinson

London Health Sciences Lead

Greg received a kidney/liver transplant at London Health Sciences Centre in 2016. Greg was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease in 1983. With careful management his kidneys functioned but gradually deteriorated until 2016 when it was determined that he needed a transplant. Greg’s wife Liz volunteered to be a donor and was a match. Greg notes that “After thirty years of marriage we now had clinical evidence that we were compatible”. Unfortunately, Greg’s liver had also developed cysts and was failing. He now needed a double transplant, but Liz was not allowed to donate both organs. Greg went on dialysis until a deceased donor was found. Greg’s recovery was rapid. “You don’t realize how sick you were until you’re healthy again”. He has resumed competitive cycling and has medaled at the Canadian Transplant Games and the World Transplant Games. gregw@transplantambassadors.ca

caroline powers for transplant ambassador program

Caroline Powers

My life had been blessed with good health until one morning in the spring of 2000 when I awoke with a rash on my legs. I saw my family physician who sent me to an internal medicine specialist, who sent me to see a nephrologist. It was hoped that the disease with which I was diagnosed would be self-limiting and my life would carry-on as usual. Sadly, this was not to be. Many of my amazing circle of family and friends came forward to be living kidney donors, but unfortunately we could not find a suitable match. My renal function continued to deteriorate and in October 2006 I started peritoneal dialysis and went on the deceased kidney donor list. I was told my wait for a deceased kidney would likely be very long as I had such a high PRA ( a test to determine the difficulty of finding an appropriate match), and consequently, my best chance of transplant was finding a compatible living donor. Having exhausted all our existing options at home, we looked to the USA. (There is now a country-wide program for incompatible donor/recipient pairs in Canada). Fortunately, after significant negotiation, my husband Greg and I were accepted into the transplant program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Our information was entered into a large pool of incompatible donor/recipient pairs, and matches were found. We were involved in a “domino transplant “ where 6 different transplants were successfully executed. I received a kidney from a lovely lady from Rhode Island, who I subsequently met, and Greg’s kidney went to a young man. After 2 1/2 years of peritoneal dialysis I had a strong, functional kidney. I felt healthy and strong and was able to return to all the activities I loved. My first transplant lasted for 7 years when a combination of rejection and my existing disease caused it to fail. I went back on dialysis, this time home hemodialysis, and was placed on the deceased waiting list in a new Canadian Program, called the Highly Sensitized Patient list. My daughter, Stephanie, wanted to be a living donor when I was first diagnosed with renal failure. I was very reluctant to take a kidney from one of my children at the time. Over the years I had time to reflect on this and decided I didn’t have the right to stop her from doing something that she desperately wanted to do. Stephanie was assessed for living donation, found to be healthy and able to donate, but we were incompatible. Together, we went into the new Canadian paired exchange program, but before a match could be found I had the incredible good fortune to be offered a transplant from the deceased list. I am now living a full and healthy life again, thanks to the kindness and generosity of my deceased donor and his family. Greg and I continue to enjoy life, and are ever grateful for and mindful of the love, generosity, knowledge, skill and experience that has brought us here. We are both volunteers in the Transplant Ambassador Program at London Health Sciences Centre, thrilled to be able to share the story of our journey and to support and encourage others. Transplants save lives. Let’s all be a part of it. caroline.p@transplantambassadors.ca

patti lake for transplant ambassador program

Patti Lake

Patti Lake is an anonymous kidney donor. After working working for the Multiple Sclerosis Society in London for 20 years, her good health was something she cherished. Volunteering in her community has always been a major part of her life. She has been a proud Rotarian for the past 14 years. Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self”. Patti is now retired and lives with her husband Michael in London, they have 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren they adore. Since becoming a kidney donor, Patti has embraced the cause, volunteering as the CoLead for the Transplant Ambassador Program and has served on the Fundraising Committee for the Multi-Organ Transplant Unit of LHSC. pattil@transplantambassadors.ca

greg powers for transplant ambassador program

Greg Powers

My partner Caroline was diagnosed with renal disease in the spring of 2000. Unfortunately, her renal function slowly deteriorated over the ensuing years. During that time, we learned that a living kidney donation would be her best treatment. I was ready and willing to be her donor. I went through the extensive battery of screening tests at University Hospital in London Ontario, and it was determined that I would be a good candidate for living kidney donation. Sadly, Caroline and I were incompatible so I could not donate to her. We learned of a fledgling paired exchange program at the University Health Network in Toronto, so we joined. I went through the screening tests for the second time and again was found to be a potential donor. Due to our blood types and the limited size of the paired exchange group it was determined that we would likely not find a compatible match. We then discovered a much larger program at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore Maryland. We joined this program in 2008. After my third round of screening tests and acceptance as a living donor they were able to match us with others. In the spring of 2009, it finally happened. In all there were six donors and six kidney recipients involved in our exchange. I could not give directly to Caroline, but I could do something to help. I was able to help not only my wife, but all the others involved in the exchange. It was a very good day. Since my living kidney donation, I have continued to lead an active and healthy life. I feel like I am the lucky one to have had the opportunity to experience the gift of giving. Thankfully we now have an excellent country wide paired donation program in Canada helping people here at home. Please consider organ donation and giving the gift of life. You won’t regret it. greg.p@transplantambassadors.ca

trish edye for transplant ambassador program

Trish Edye

Trish Edye donated a kidney to her non-related goddaughter in 2016. When it came to light that Casey needed a transplant and they were a good match she was glad to have the opportunity to help. Trish lives in St. Marys, ON with her hubby, has 3 grown children, 2 grandboys, and works as an Educational Assistant. Working as a Transplant Ambassador is a rewarding way to promote and support living kidney transplants. trish.e@transplantambassadors.ca

kathleen murphy for transplant ambassador program

Kathleen Murphy

I was married later in life and, never having been a biological mother but having had a great life to date, was looking for a way to give life to others. While getting my hair cut one day, I learned from my hairdresser (seen in photo!) about the process for being assessed as a kidney donor as her husband needed one. Unfortunately, my hairdresser did not qualify but she was able to give me an outline of what is involved. Once I heard about the process, I quickly thought “I am going to investigate this”. As of 2007, hospitals in London were not yet set up to support anonymous organ donations so I looked to Toronto. St. Michael’s Hospital took me on. They were great throughout the extensive advance assessment process that took about a year. At one point, an issue arose that caused their team some concern, but we worked through it and together undertook further testing to ensure that I would not be at significant increased risk to be living with the one remaining kidney after transplant. In January 2008, I donated my kidney as my 50th birthday celebration: to this day, I live the dream that whomever has my kidney is still enjoying a healthy life. I am married and stepmother to a healthy adult daughter. I am an Occupational Therapist, recently retired from full time employment but still working causally in the field. I love traveling and being a volunteer with Rotary. kathleenm@transplantambassadors.ca

rebecca margeson for transplant ambassador program

Rebecca Margeson

Rebecca Margeson is a kidney recipient. rebecca.m@transplantambassadors.ca