Life Savers

It’s the waiting which is so hard.

And Sarah Taylor knows waiting. Her partner, Keith Childerhose, spent months waiting for a new set of lungs, without which his prognosis was grim. “The waiting is horrible. You start to play games with yourself. You start to look—it is awful to say—you look at the weather patterns—oh, big storm coming, car accidents…”

But on January 29, the wait was over. Childerhose received a new pair of lungs from an organ donor. Within days, he was up and walking.

Childerhose was lucky.

According to Ronnie Gavsie, president and CEO of Ontario’s Trillium Gift of Life Network, there are over 1500 people waiting in Ontario for a lifesaving transplant. One of them dies every three days–waiting. Gavsie says just 22 percent of Ontarians are registered to be organ donors.

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Registering donors is difficult, in part, because there are so many misconceptions about the process.  ome people simply think they are too old.  “This is not true,” Gavsie says. “There are donors of organs who are 100 years old. Age is not an issue.”

Neither, she says, is an existing medical condition. There are no medical issues which can prevent someone from registering.

Perhaps the biggest conception centers on what happens in the hospital. One worry that being registered as an organ donor means doctors won’t try as hard to save them. Gavsie says this is “absolutely not true.” She adds “the subject of donation will not come up” until everything possible has been done to save a patient.

There is one other misconception Gavsie would like to clear up. It’s about the donor card. The cards are thing of the past—and for good reason. They were often hidden in a wallet or a drawer and not found in time. The new way is to register online at beadonor.ca.

During the frustrating months she and Childerhose were waiting, Taylor helped to spread the word about the importance of registration. “Somebody said you really need a Facebook page. I was like okay, make me a Facebook page.” In just over a day, they had a thousand followers.

While social media has no influence on who gets an organ or when, every new registered donor means another chance at saving a life. “It’s not stopping here, and Keith is agreeing with me on this. He said we have to keep this going,” Taylor said just a week after the transplant.

Today, Childerhose is thriving. He and Taylor continue to work on registering organ donors. And that’s not all. They are also busy planning a wedding–and a long future together.