MACKENZIE HEALTH RICHMOND HILL TAP AMBASSADORS

marian reich for transplant ambassador program

Marian Reich

My name is Marian Reich and I truly feel like the most ordinary person one could meet. I am one of six children who were raised on a farm in Ontario. I fulfilled my childhood dream and became a swimming instructor/lifeguard at 17, which laid the path to becoming an elementary teacher. After 28 years, I have recently retired and am choosing how to spend my time now. I love hot yoga, travelling and hanging out with friends. I am also a living kidney donor. This story begins in 2008 when I was chatting on the phone with my brother. He told me Susan's kidney disease had worsened and she was on the waiting list for a deceased donation. She was told to find someone who would be willing to give a living organ. Gosh, how is someone supposed to do that? I asked Len what her blood type was and he said A+. I am also A+ and in that moment I knew. I knew it could be me who would undergo an operation to give a part of me so Susan could trade life on dialysis for a richer one. I sat very still after that call, perhaps the most still ever as I asked myself if I could do this. The answer was yes. I traveled to LHSC for the extensive testing to ensure two things: one, I had a great kidney which would be of use to Susan and two; I had no underlying health issues which would compromise my future health. Lots of blood tests, CAT scan, ultra sound, psychological interview and pre-op visit were on the list. Many phone calls to Susan were made to see how we were coping emotionally both with the work-up and the waiting. In January 2010, we checked in at 6 a.m. and by day's end a new kidney was working, by all accounts, very well inside Susan. It took me a couple of years to talk openly about our transplant adventure, but now I want to really spread the word to encourage others to consider living donation. Susan is doing really well and I don't think I have ever been healthier or happier in life. In reflecting back though, I could have benefited in talking with another person who had lived the experience before me. That's why I want to be part of TAP – The Transplant Ambassador Program. I want to have the opportunity to talk to people with CKD in the clinic to let them know that living donation is not so mysterious and that it can make the world of difference in someone's life. Susan and I are the evidence of that. marian.reich@transplantambassadors.ca

eileen freedman for transplant ambassador program

Eileen Freedman

My name is Eileen Freedman. I am married with 4 children and I work as a pediatrician. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) with my last pregnancy. I progressed to renal failure and dialysis within12 years. I began Home Hemodialysis while my family and friends pursued whether they could be donors. I am very fortunate to have a lifelong friend, Tracy Arthurs, who agreed to and completed the process to be my donor. Unfortunately, she was not my blood type and we entered the Living Donor Exchange Programme. We matched with 4 other people 2 years into my home dialysis experience. I have been so lucky and blessed with Tracy, my husband and all of the wonderful people whom I have met during this time. To my utter disappointment, all 4 of my children have been diagnosed with PKD. I want to work within the TAP to help others understand dialysis and transplantation. My hope is that this process will be vastly improved before my children need transplants themselves. eileen.freedman@transplantambassadors.ca

tom mitrovski for transplant ambassador program

Tom Mitrovski

My name is Tom Mitrovski. I am a kidney transplant recipient for 39yrs from a deceased donor. Without my hero family, there would be no me and no miracle story. I am forever grateful for this gift of life. I was able to see my children grow into adults and now I am enjoying my twelve grandchildren. As a young father of three at the age of 22, I was constantly tired. At first, I was blaming this on workload as I was working three jobs to support the family. Illness has no borders. It does not care about your age, your wealth, fame, gender, origin or faith. I was diagnosed with acute renal problems and eventually ended up on dialysis. After three years dialyzing I go the call that a kidney was available. On November 27,1979 I had my transplant. I was emotionally scared and after two months in hospital, I was released to go home to start a new chapter. I started feeling stronger and took my family on a long-awaited vacation to Florida! As time passed on, I felt I had to contribute to support organ donation. I began supporting the Kidney Foundation to explore ways to help find a cure. Today the waiting time is said to be between 7-9yrs, with many dying waiting for an organ. A living donor can make the wait time shorter and, in some cases, people can avoid dialysis completely! That is why I became a Transplant Ambassador. I want to support and inspire. Transplantation is an amazing journey that tests the limits of human strength and courage. It requires commitment, faith as well as emotional and physical endurance. If you can handle kidney disease and transplantation, you can conquer anything! It is one of life’s greatest challenges and the reward is life itself! I love humour, so I named my kidney Gerry. tomm@transplantambassadors.ca