INTERNATIONAL ORGAN DONATION AWARENESS-CANADA - RUNNING FOR LIFE
Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com Participants set off at the 12th annual Run for Life awareness fun-run at Confederation College on Saturday.
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An organ recipient said she didn’t even know she had someone else’s liver until she woke up in a hospital bed more than 140 kilometres from her home.
Caitlyn Hie, 21, came to share her story at the 12th annual Run for Life event at Confederation College on Saturday. More than 200 people ran, walked or jogged at this year’s race. Participants paid an entrance fee of $25 to enter but the event is not considered a fundraiser but more of an awareness campaign about the demand for organ donations and a thank you for the families. The money raised covered the costs of the event.
Hie said she’s happy to see the number of people coming out to participate has grown each year. Four years ago, Hie received two liver donations. At the time, she lived in Burlington, ON, and had returned from school. She said she suddenly had a headache and the next thing she knew she was in a hospital in London, ON, and told she had someone else’s liver.
"I wasn’t really emotional to it, I think I had a little bit of shock," she said. "It wouldn’t sink in for the longest time. I had to receive a second transplant and it wasn’t until two weeks after the second transplant that the first one really hit me. I was just getting adjusted and getting my footing from the first one and then I had to get used to the fact that I’m getting a second transplant." Hie said the first liver transplant didn’t wasn’t permanent because the connective arteries were the wrong sizes and couldn’t pump blood to the new liver. She found out later that the first liver was used to buy time for the second donation.
"I’ve been lucky enough to have been saved twice," she said.
Hie moved in with her mother in Thunder Bay to recover from surgery. She enrolled into the first year social workers program at Lakehead University because she wanted to help people out.
When Hie became sick, she said she had to drop out of school at Grade 11. She said she now has to figure out a new lifestyle.
"I’ve finally just got back into schooling; four years after my transplant," she said. "I was a teenager and this was suppose to be when I was going out with my friends and getting into trouble and I kind of had that taken away from me."
Beth Shipston participated in the Run for Life for three years. She said she knows what it is like to be able to give someone an organ donation.
"A father of mine had a stroke and we were able to harvest some organs and hand them over to somebody else," Shipston said. "Between friends, family and other runners we know I think a lot of people have been affected by it."
Lisa MacIsaac, issue donation advisor with Trillium Gift of Life Network, said the Trillium network handles Ontario organ and issue donations and wanted people to come away from the event knowing how important it is to donate.
The run kicked off the National Organ and Tissue donation awareness week. MacIsaac said in 2009, the Trillium network saved more than 700 lives and enhanced the lives of thousands because of organ and issue donations.
"We’re not finish our job and there are certainly more people waiting on the list that need our help," MacIsaac said. "Communities like Thunder Bay and having these kinds of runs really help to make the difference in getting those people off the waiting list."
In Ontario, more than 1,600 people wait to receive a transplant. MacIsaac said she is grateful for the families willing to make a donation.