ST. JOSEPH'S HEALTH CENTRE TORONTO TAP AMBASSADORS

john dilalo for transplant ambassador program

John Dilallo

John woke up one day with pain in his leg. Having experienced a similar ache in the past, he stopped at the Emergency Department on his way to work, expecting it would be a quick check-up. To his surprise, routine blood work revealed an issue unrelated to the pain: he had late-stage kidney disease and would need to go on dialysis to prepare him for a transplant down the road. John was placed on the transplant list and began hemodialysis at St. Joseph’s. He made a commitment to never miss a single dialysis treatment – even if it meant scheduling appointments at clinics across Canada and the United States when he travelled. As his BMI was too high to be a candidate for transplant at his initial diagnosis, he also put himself on a strict exercise and weight loss regiment. John spent seven and a half years on dialysis. In 2016, John’s urology team at St. Michael’s determined he was physically fit for transplant. The call could come at any time. Over the holidays in 2016, John was about to have lunch with his wife when his phone rang. It was St. Michael’s, and they had a kidney from a deceased donor that looked like it would be a match. “After my transplant, I felt like I had woken up! I walked back into my life after being asleep for more than seven years. Who do I have to thank for all of this? My wife, St. Joe’s and St. Mike’s. I’m just a player on the team and I had great teammates. My doctors, my nurses, and my technicians: they’re all my teammates and we scored.” John is the Transplant Ambassador Lead at St. Joe’s. “There’s very little happening to people that hasn’t happened to me. It was not easy but now I can relate to people. I’ve been in the chair many times and I know it can be painful. If I can carry the load for someone, even for a few minutes, then I’ve helped. The person who registered to be an organ donor and blessed me with a new kidney is now part of my life forever. They’re always with me. If you want to be remembered forever, register to be an organ and tissue donor. If you want to be loved forever, register to be an organ and tissue donor. It takes a special person to register to be an organ donor and give such a generous gift.” johnd@transplantambassadors.ca