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Russ Needs A Kidney

close up RUSS IMG_3748 (1)Hi. I’m Russ Sawatsky and I’ve got two bum kidneys, but since July 29, 2016 I also have a donated kidney that is working really well. On this site you’ll find out a bit about my story, how to give a kidney, get a kidney and save lives.

To find out more about organ donation, scroll down.

To be even more wonderful, talk to your family, then go online and register as an organ donor

To share your own thoughts and experiences, send a message to: kidneyforruss@gmail.com.

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Nova Scotia passes bill for “Presumed Consent” Organ Donation

 

Canada currently operates under an “Opt-In” system for organ donation. That means that you have to sign up to put yourself on your province’s list of willing organ donors. However, in a move that puts Nova Scotia first among jurisdictions in North America, the province’s legislature has passed a bill for an “Opt-Out” system also known as “Presumed Consent.” It is routinely said that greater than 80 percent of Canadians are in favour of organ donation, but fewer than 20 percent actually go through the process of registering as a donor or “opting in” to the registry.

Here is an opinion article by Michael Enright, host of the CBC Radio show Sunday Morning that discusses the impact Nova Scotia’s decision can make on Canada’s “pathetic” record for organ donation. I invite your comments.

How Canada could change its ‘pathetic’ organ donation record: Michael’s essay

Let us bow our heads in gratitude and raise a glass to the province of Nova Scotia. Impossible to do at the same time, I grant you, but give it a shot.

A grateful nation has many reasons to thank Nova Scotia: the landscape, Pier 21, the people, lobster, Bob Stanfield, Lunenburg and Joe Howe.

The latest contribution of the Bluenose province to the betterment of mankind came this week when the provincial government introduced a bill to make every Nova Scotian an automatic organ donor.

When the bill becomes law, Nova Scotia will become the first jurisdiction in North America to operate a donor system known as presumed consent.

Under this system, everyone is considered willing to donate an organ unless he or she makes the determination to opt out.

It is used in 20 European countries and has led to an increase in organ donations and transplants.

‘Pathetic’ Canadian donation record

It couldn’t come at a better time. In terms of donation, Canada’s record is pathetic.

While more than 80 per cent of us say we believe in donation, only 20 per cent of us have made plans.

Click here to read more.

 

They face financial ruin to get a new lung. Some are choosing to die instead

Here’s an article about another group of people in need of organ transplants: those who need a new lung. Although the surgery is covered by provincial health plans, lung transplants for those in Atlantic Canada require a months-long stay, with a caregiver, in Toronto, driving some to consider death rather than push their families into poverty.

They face financial ruin to get a new lung. Some are choosing to die instead

Carolyn Ray · CBC News

Natalie Jarvis, age 42, contemplated palliative care due to costs

At 42 years old, Natalie Jarvis decided she was ready to die.

Late last year, her Halifax specialist informed her that her only chance to survive would be a double-lung transplant. It wasn’t the surgery that scared her. Or the lengthy recovery.

She would need to come up with at least $10,000 in a matter of weeks.

“On Jan. 3, I mentioned palliative care to the doctors,” she says. “I was ready to give up.”

Lung transplants are covered by the health-care system. But because they cannot be done in Atlantic Canada, patients in the region must move to Toronto for months on end in order to get the life-saving surgery. Some have lost their homes or liquidated their savings to afford the expense.

Some have even chosen death over financial ruin.

Jarvis has antisynthetase syndrome with interstitial lung disease, a rare auto-immune condition. For years, she’s relied on steroids to keep her going. But late last year, her condition deteriorated at an alarming rate.

She could no longer do household tasks. When she took off her oxygen mask to shower, her feet would turn purple. She would fall asleep at 6:30 every night.

She had to make the biggest decision of her life while struggling to breathe.

Click here to read more.

The Logan Boulet effect: Death of player in Humboldt Broncos bus crash spurs a national movement

Out of the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash and in particular, the death of Logan Boulet, a renewed awareness of organ donation gained prominence.

When Logan’s parents learned that their son’s injuries would lead to his death, his mother asked, “What about donating his organs? Is that a possibility?” This was immediately followed by his father saying, “Logan had directed me that he wanted to give his organs.”

Six people across Canada benefited from his organs and the Logan Boulet Effect soon followed. Nearly 100,000 Canadians signed up to become organ donors after learning he had signed his own card.

Bernadine and Toby Boulet, parents of the late Humboldt Broncos hockey player Logan Boulet, pose at their home in Lethbridge, Alta., on Dec.6, 2018.

(Retrieved through The Globe and Mail)

The Logan Boulet effect: Death of player in Humboldt Broncos bus crash spurs a national movement

Please click here to read the rest of the article and then go to this site to see about registering as an organ donor in your province.

I was a stranger and you gave me water… and a kidney!

Andy Clutton donated a kidney to Ghulam Akbar Momand after they became friends and neighbours living in a Rebecca Street highrise. – Barry Gray,The Hamilton Spectator

The following article was first published in The Hamilton Spectator and also published in The Star.

He was a stranger next door. Then he gave him a kidney

Their story began with a knock at the door and a gift of bottled water.

It has become about so much more — a 65-year-old Afghan man and a 29-year-old Canadian man sharing meals, religion, culture, respect and now, almost unbelievably, a kidney.

On an August day in 2012, Ghulam Akbar Momand and 18 of his family members moved into a Rebecca Street highrise, only to find their three units without water or electricity due to a building emergency.

It was not an ideal welcome to Canada for the Afghan family, who recently arrived in Hamilton via Pakistan.

That same day, neighbour Andy Clutton made his way through the 16-storey building along with a group of other residents, distributing water bottles to help those who couldn’t make it out of their units.

Going door-to-door, Clutton met Momand — who he calls “Dr. Akbar” — along with the rest of his family living in the building, which included nine children.

It was the start of a beautiful friendship between the two men born more than three decades apart in different countries with different skin colours.

“From that day, we make our friendship,” Momand said about Clutton. “A friend who gives … half of life to you — I find this friend.”

The story of how the two men went from “friends to donors” grew out of their shared medical experience, explains Clutton, who is recovering well after donating one of his kidneys to Momand three weeks ago.

Momand, who was chief and served as doctor in his village of Mangwal, Afghanistan, would routinely perform procedures like circumcisions and pull teeth.

Clutton, a father of three, works as a palliative-care nurse in Grimsby.

“Even though (Momand’s) English was very poor then, there were many terms in Latin through medical terminology that we could tell stories about, laugh about and learn from each other on,” Clutton said.

Clutton’s shift work also meant the two could have tea often. Through these meetings, Clutton learned of Momand’s medical conditions, including slowly deteriorating kidneys that led to him being on dialysis for more than three years.

In 2015, the father of 10 had a heart operation. The stress of the surgery caused his kidney function to rapidly decrease.

As Momand’s health continued to decline, the family looked into whether one of his children could be a living kidney donor, but none were eligible because both Momand and his wife have diabetes, said Clutton.

So, the family approached Clutton and another friend in the building, Varun Rana, for help explaining their situation to other Canadians.

Not knowing what being a kidney donor involved, Rana and Clutton began exploring basic questions, such as eligibility and the length of the process.

“Initially, just to find out the facts, but kind of setting our hearts to walking through this door until the door was closed,” Clutton said.

Several years ago, Clutton, his wife Shannon and a group of their friends — including Rana and his wife Amelia — moved into the Beasley neighbourhood purposefully to serve immigrants and refugees.

“Varun and I were part of a team that would try to use our spare time to help the neighbourhood,” he said.

They are part of a small movement called MoveIn, in which Christians move into low-income, high-density communities with large newcomer populations to follow Jesus’ example.

“We’ve always explained ourselves in this neighbourhood as trying to imitate the life of Jesus in service to others,” said Clutton, who grew up in the Philippines and went to high school in Toronto.

Click here to read more…

Andy Clutton, right, says he donated a kidney to Ghulam Akbar Momand due to a “spiritual conviction” to live life like Jesus. – Photo courtesy of Andy Clutton

The Kidney Walk is done for another year. Thank you.

It was a beautiful blue-sky kind of Sunday for this year’s edition of the Kidney Foundation‘s annual Kidney Walk in London, Ontario. As fundraisers go, it was quite a success, raising in excess of $38,000 for the Foundation. On an individual level, you, my sponsors, combined to put my walk first among individual fundraisers, raising $2,360. Thank you very much for your support for me and for this cause.

I am not a selfie pro. I cannot take a picture of myself and smile at the same time! The green shirt indicates a “champion,” with over $1000 raised.

Not everyone with kidney disease (or a transplant) is an old geezer like me. Among the folks I saw today was a family who were walking on behalf of their little son, who appeared to be all of 4 years old. Kidney Disease is a generic term because it can arise from a variety of causes and at a variety of ages. One young man of 34 spoke of his disease as having been genetic, inherited. The disease I was diagnosed with at 25 has its own distinct story. Whether known or unknown, I am grateful for the support of people like you, which helps advance patient care and medical research. Thank you.

Russ Sawatsky

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Changed Organ Donation

I received a kidney from a living donor in 2016. That this happened was a result of developments described in this article, a program run by Canadian Blood Services that would take all the available but incompatible donor-recipient pairs across Canada and seek to match them up. After going through that exercise multiple times with no success, the difference came about because an altruistic anonymous donor came forward. This resulted in a chain of paired donations and new lives for many people.

The following article, although specifically addressing the US context, describes these circumstances in great detail. The opening lines really grab you:

How AI changed organ donation in the US

By Corinne Purtill

There used to be only three ways off of a kidney transplant waiting list. The first was to find a healthy person from within one’s own pool of friends and family, who perfectly matched both the recipient’s blood and tissue types, and possessed a spare kidney he or she was willing to part with.

The second was to wait for the unexpected death of a stranger who was a suitable physical match and happened to have the organ-donor box checked on their driver’s license.

The third was to die.

Although algorithms have made a tremendous difference in matching up eligible donors and recipients, the medical ethics around organ donation cannot be resolved by a mathematical model. I’m sure you will find the included discussion of a “God committee” fascinating.

Click here to read the article.

And in a related note, I’ll be participating in the Kidney Walk this weekend. If you are interested in supporting those living with kidney disease by making a donation, click here to go to my sponsorship page.

Engineered pig lung transplant ‘a success’

This development is great news for those who will need transplants in the coming years. It’s hard to imagine receiving a transplanted organ without requiring anti-rejection drugs. I take several myself every day and will continue to do as long as I have a functioning donor kidney. This is a wonderful example of the kind of research that goes on in the world of transplant medicine.

Engineered pig lung transplant ‘a success’

The engineered pig lung is shown here in its bioreactor. (J. Nichols, Science Translational Medicine 2018)

 

By Lucy R Green
Science reporter, BBC

Scientists have successfully transplanted a bioengineered lung into a pig.

To create a new lung, experts used a “scaffold” that provided structural support and slowly built up the lung tissue around it, using cells from the pig that was due to get the transplant.

This was done to prevent the lung being rejected by the pig’s immune system.

Once transplanted, the lung alveolar tissue and blood vessels carried on developing for up to two months.

Not only was the lung not rejected, but it even developed an important population of bacteria.

Lungs suitable for transplant are in short supply and the study is a significant step forward in finding an alternative solution. “People wait for a long time on a transplant list before they are able to receive a donated lung,” said co-author Professor Joan Nichols.

Click here to read the rest of the article.