julia bezubiak for transplant ambassador program

Julia Bezubiak

St Michael's Hospital Co Lead

My journey started in 1985 with a severe bladder infection, when it was discovered that I only had one kidney. That was shocking to say the least but, I didn’t have any issues for the next 10+ years. Regular blood tests results started showing continued deterioration in my kidney function and my family doctor referred me to a nephrologist. It wasn’t until in early 2010, that my nephrologist advised me that I had to seriously consider starting dialysis. I must say that I fought tooth and nail not to start dialysis. In July 2011, I had a peritoneal dialysis catheter inserted and six weeks later I started nightly peritoneal dialysis. This option for dialysis allowed me to continue to work full time, play golf, go to the gym and travel. This also allowed me to have more control over my life while on dialysis. My transplant came two years later through a deceased donor and changed my life!! As a transplant recipient, I believe it’s important to share my very positive experience with donors and potential recipients to the amazing gift that is being shared. Being able to give someone, be it a stranger, friend or family member, the ability to live life to the fullest again, is truly a selfless act.

suk yin for transplant ambassador program

Suk Yin Ng

St Michael's Hospital Co Lead

My name is Suk Yin Ng. I was a librarian for 40 years and am the proud mother of two – my son Andrew and daughter Casey. When my son was ten years old, he was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare kidney disease that can affect both children and adults. Since the diagnosis, my family had a turbulent journey with non-stop medical appointments, hospital visits and endless discouraging news. After eight years, we received the devastating news that my son was in ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) and in need of a transplant. Without hesitation, both my husband and I wanted to step up and I felt very fortunate to be chosen as a suitable donor. I am sometimes asked if I was ever concerned about the safety of the operation and the impact donating a kidney might have on my own health. My answer is, naturally, of course it did, though my biggest worry was about the pain I might experience. I learned that kidney transplant surgery is very safe with no greater risk than any other surgery. Regarding my post-donation health, all donor candidates are required to go through a thorough matching process to ensure the best outcome for both donor and recipient. Simply put, I would not qualify as a donor if there was a slight prospect of compromising my health. In the end, I took six weeks off work to fully recover and, thanks to the nature of my job, did not require any accommodation when I returned to full-time work. In October 2005, just after our son turned 18, we successfully went through the transplant operations and this year we are celebrating the fourteenth anniversary this life-saving procedure. With his new kidney, my son was able to obtain his law degree and continues to enjoy a healthy, productive life, living and working overseas. In retrospect, there is nothing more meaningful that we can give. I couldn’t be prouder than to have been a living kidney donor and to have helped our son regain his good health. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. We have a great deal of respect for the professional team – doctors, nurses, administrators, counsellors and everyone else -- at St. Mike’s Transplant Clinic who made this possible. They are dedicated to their work and we will be forever grateful. To read more, please visit

lawrence gellar for transplant ambassador program

Lawrence Gellar

During the winter and spring of 2008 I was feeling less energetic than usual and thought that it might simply be that I am getting older. I had had a medical examination in December 2007 and, aside from slightly rising blood pressure there was nothing of note. My wife knowing the lack of energy was unusual for me insisted that I get a second opinion and at that time we discovered that I was in acute renal and cardiac failure and I was admitted to St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto for treatment. Within a few days I had peritoneal dialysis tubes inserted into my abdomen and I was being trained to do nightly, home, peritoneal dialysis. The next several months saw a rapid deterioration in my health and it was strongly suggested that I attempt to find a Living Donor. Although many had offered to be tested, it seemed that none followed up. Fortunately my wife if both very strong willed and we share a blood type and she began the Donor work-up process. On March 31, 2009 my wife's left kidney was transplanted into my abdomen, freeing me from the need to continue on dialysis.

priyanka thavarajah for transplant ambassador program

Priyanka Thavarajah

Priyanka is a living donor to her brother. Bio coming soon.

jason kroft for transplant ambassador program

Jason Kroft

My name is Jason Kroft. I am happily married to Marci for over 20 years and I have two wonderful daughters Harper (age 15) and Sloane (age 3). I was diagnosed with progressive kidney disease as a toddler. I received excellent care initially at Sick Kid’s Hospital and later at Sunnybrook. The doctors, nurses and other health professionals I met over the years were so kind and caring. The main goal was to prolong my kidney function as long as possible. It became clear that I would need medical intervention in my mid 20s. My doctor presented the option of having a kidney transplant right away and skipping dialysis. My mom jumped at the opportunity to give me her kidney. She had been my health advocate, caregiver, supporter and champion from the very early days of my kidney diagnosis and she wanted naturally to be there to give me the Second Gift of Life. I received my kidney transplant at St. Mike’s Hospital on September 12, 2000. I recently celebrated my 18th Kidney-versary. My wife, kids and I are forever grateful to my mom for her loving gift to me and to the doctors and nurses at St. Michael’s hospital where the surgery was performed and where I receive continued monitoring. I believe my kidney disease had given me a profound appreciation for life and a strong wish to give back. I am so happy to be able to play a role in the Transplant Ambassadors Program and to share my insights and experiences with others.

donna rudnicki for transplant ambassador program

Donna Rudnicki

Donna is a kidney recipient. Bio coming soon.

judy mcdougall for transplant ambassador program

Judy McDougall

Judy is a kidney donor. Bio coming soon.

After 50 years, St. Michael’s Hospital remains at the forefront of kidney care.

transplant ambassador program

An interview with Dr. Jeff Zaltzman from St. Michael's Hospital.

Dr. Jeffrey Zaltzman leads the medical teams at St. Michael’s Hospital who are ushering in a new era of kidney care – and hope for the millions of patients living with kidney disease.
Read the full article here. . . .

Meet Transplant Ambassador: Lawrence Geller

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Watch the video clip here . . .

Meet Transplant Ambassador: Jason Kroft

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Watch the video clip here . . .