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Living donor encourages others to give the gift of life

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BY AMY HOGUE

Organ donation can be a sensitive subject; one that some people tend to shy away from while others embrace wholeheartedly. For Cindy Rivington, organ donation is a subject with personal meaning. Cindy is not only a living donor, but her life has been personally touched by organ donation, and she is hoping to increase awareness of organ donation and encourage others to participate in this life giving process.

Organ donation can not only saves lives, but can also help recipients improve their quality of life, allowing them to live their lives as productive members of society. According to the Ontario organ donation website, there is a chronic shortage of organs and tissue available, and nearly 1,500 Ontarians await life-saving organ transplants. One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation or enhance up to 75 through tissue donation.

Organ donors need to register to ensure their organs are preserved in case of death, but organ donation is not only something to think about if someone dies, people can also become living donors for a kidney, part of a liver and a lobe of the lung. The organ most in need by Canadians is a kidney, which can be received from a living donor.

“You don’t realize how precious life is until you live with some one that’s sick,” Cindy explained, touching on a topic that is meaningful for her and her family. Her husband, John, has suffered from kidney failure for many years and was facing a future of dialysis when Cindy donated a kidney to him in 2009.

Before deciding to donate one of her kidneys, Cindy and her family had already been personally impacted by organ donation. Cindy explained that when her brother passed away in 2001, his organs were donated through the organ donation program.

Although families of organ donors aren’t informed who the organ recipients will be, Cindy said her family received a four page letter from a Toronto man in his mid-twenties who received one of her brother’s kidneys. The letter thanked Cindy’s family for donating her brother’s organs, and explained how the kidney literally gave him a second chance at life.

Cindy’s and John’s feedback from their experience with organ donation is incredibly positive. Cindy explained she began testing her blood in June 2009 to see if she was a match, and the surgery took place only two months later, in August 2009. Although Cindy said she took two weeks off work for the surgery and recovery, she said the recovery was remarkably smooth for her and her life hasn’t changed at all now that she has only one kidney instead of two.

“As a donor, I actually forget at times that I even gave a kidney,” Cindy said, “I don’t even know the difference.”

For John, the impact Cindy’s kidney had on his health was almost immediate. Cindy’s parents, who accompanied her to the hospital for her surgery, noted the rapid change a new kidney made for her husband, John.

“When John was going in for surgery they said he was very grey and discoloured and after the surgery the change in skin colour was almost immediate,” Cindy said, “You don’t realize how important kidneys are in getting toxins out of your system until you’re sick with it.”

The only other alternative to a kidney transplant is dialysis, which Cindy said “is good, but not the best.” Cindy’s aunt is another person in her family touched by organ donations, and has received two unsuccessful organ transplants. She currently travels from her home in Westport to the hospital three times per week for dialysis.

Cindy pointed out that although dialysis keeps people alive it makes it difficult to lead a normal life because so much time is spent in hospital receiving treatment. Beyond dialysis, patients with kidney failure also have to monitor their water intake very carefully, which can also be time consuming.

Cindy is so passionate about organ donation that she’s taken over an annual five kilometre walk, the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Give the Gift of Life Walk, to raise funds for kidney research. The walk is held on the last weekend in September at the Crystal Palace in Perth and features door prizes and silent auctions.

Cindy said she participated in the walk for the past two or three years, but 2014 was her first year organizing it. The walk is open to anyone, and dialysis recipients don’t need to walk, they are encouraged to just come and enjoy the afternoon.

Cindy said she’s trying to do more to promote organ donation in the community, and particularly bring awareness to the process. The walk is one of the ways in which she hopes to accomplish this, and she has big plans for its continued success.

“I’m actually just starting to get into it, this was my first year (2014) trying to organize the walk…we raised a little better than $11,000,” Cindy explained. “I’m hoping next September it will be fairly big.”

For more information about organ donation, or to register as a donor, please visit www.beadonor.ca.

 

 

 

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Living donor encourages others to give the gift of life

fb_share_en

BY AMY HOGUE

Organ donation can be a sensitive subject; one that some people tend to shy away from while others embrace wholeheartedly. For Cindy Rivington, organ donation is a subject with personal meaning. Cindy is not only a living donor, but her life has been personally touched by organ donation, and she is hoping to increase awareness of organ donation and encourage others to participate in this life giving process.

Organ donation can not only saves lives, but can also help recipients improve their quality of life, allowing them to live their lives as productive members of society. According to the Ontario organ donation website, there is a chronic shortage of organs and tissue available, and nearly 1,500 Ontarians await life-saving organ transplants. One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation or enhance up to 75 through tissue donation.

Organ donors need to register to ensure their organs are preserved in case of death, but organ donation is not only something to think about if someone dies, people can also become living donors for a kidney, part of a liver and a lobe of the lung. The organ most in need by Canadians is a kidney, which can be received from a living donor.

“You don’t realize how precious life is until you live with some one that’s sick,” Cindy explained, touching on a topic that is meaningful for her and her family. Her husband, John, has suffered from kidney failure for many years and was facing a future of dialysis when Cindy donated a kidney to him in 2009.

Before deciding to donate one of her kidneys, Cindy and her family had already been personally impacted by organ donation. Cindy explained that when her brother passed away in 2001, his organs were donated through the organ donation program.

Although families of organ donors aren’t informed who the organ recipients will be, Cindy said her family received a four page letter from a Toronto man in his mid-twenties who received one of her brother’s kidneys. The letter thanked Cindy’s family for donating her brother’s organs, and explained how the kidney literally gave him a second chance at life.

Cindy’s and John’s feedback from their experience with organ donation is incredibly positive. Cindy explained she began testing her blood in June 2009 to see if she was a match, and the surgery took place only two months later, in August 2009. Although Cindy said she took two weeks off work for the surgery and recovery, she said the recovery was remarkably smooth for her and her life hasn’t changed at all now that she has only one kidney instead of two.

“As a donor, I actually forget at times that I even gave a kidney,” Cindy said, “I don’t even know the difference.”

For John, the impact Cindy’s kidney had on his health was almost immediate. Cindy’s parents, who accompanied her to the hospital for her surgery, noted the rapid change a new kidney made for her husband, John.

“When John was going in for surgery they said he was very grey and discoloured and after the surgery the change in skin colour was almost immediate,” Cindy said, “You don’t realize how important kidneys are in getting toxins out of your system until you’re sick with it.”

The only other alternative to a kidney transplant is dialysis, which Cindy said “is good, but not the best.” Cindy’s aunt is another person in her family touched by organ donations, and has received two unsuccessful organ transplants. She currently travels from her home in Westport to the hospital three times per week for dialysis.

Cindy pointed out that although dialysis keeps people alive it makes it difficult to lead a normal life because so much time is spent in hospital receiving treatment. Beyond dialysis, patients with kidney failure also have to monitor their water intake very carefully, which can also be time consuming.

Cindy is so passionate about organ donation that she’s taken over an annual five kilometre walk, the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Give the Gift of Life Walk, to raise funds for kidney research. The walk is held on the last weekend in September at the Crystal Palace in Perth and features door prizes and silent auctions.

Cindy said she participated in the walk for the past two or three years, but 2014 was her first year organizing it. The walk is open to anyone, and dialysis recipients don’t need to walk, they are encouraged to just come and enjoy the afternoon.

Cindy said she’s trying to do more to promote organ donation in the community, and particularly bring awareness to the process. The walk is one of the ways in which she hopes to accomplish this, and she has big plans for its continued success.

“I’m actually just starting to get into it, this was my first year (2014) trying to organize the walk…we raised a little better than $11,000,” Cindy explained. “I’m hoping next September it will be fairly big.”

For more information about organ donation, or to register as a donor, please visit www.beadonor.ca.

 

 

 

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