For Richmond Hill’s Natalie Djihanian, 37, it meant she could finally see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel and continue being a mom and wife.
For Bruce Cuthbert, 57, it was like being taken off a death watch.
The trio, attending the launch of the York Region Gift of Life Association at Aurora Town Hall Friday, gave poignant meaning to the literal importance of giving of one’s self. As a kickoff to National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, which begins today across Canada, the event was, as described by Mr. Cuthbert, a 2010 liver transplant recipient, historic.
With Aurora Mayor Geoffrey Dawe, Progressive Conservative Aurora-Newmarket MPP Frank Klees, Liberal Oak Ridges-Markham MPP Dr. Helena Jaczek and Aurora-Newmarket Conservative MP Lois Brown in attendance, it was the first time such a York Region initiative received endorsement from four government levels in a public, nonpartisan forum.
The association’s mission is to promote organ and tissue donation awareness and raise donor registration rates in the region, founder Ms Van Veen said. A York Central Hospital communications specialist, she was inspired to create the group after her father, Malcolm, suffered a critical brain injury in a 2010 auto accident. She and family members painfully opted to remove the 49-year-old from life support. His lungs, kidneys and corneas were transplanted to waiting patients.
Happy with the launch of the association, the inspiration for her decision remains bitter sweet, she said.