Tag Archives: ethics of organ donation

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.

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The Globe and Mail. “No more secrets: Why I broke protocol as a kidney donor”

This “First Person” article originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on April 27, 2018.

 

 

Twice a year – at Christmas and in early June – I hear from a man whom I have met only once, who lives in a remote village far from my Vancouver home, but with whom I share something intimate: our kidneys. I’ve got one, he’s got the other. I’m not supposed to know this man. Protocols in the national Kidney Paired Donation program decree that donors and recipients who are strangers should remain that way.

Vern and I were part of a cross-Canada exchange involving multiple donor-recipient pairs that resulted in my daughter, Kasari, receiving a kidney from someone closer to her age and my kidney going to Vern, who is closer to my age and for whom my kidney will be a better match.

While for some, donor-recipient confidentiality in a paired kidney exchange makes perfect sense, for inquisitive people like Kasari and me (and, it turns out, Vern and his wife, Shirl), engaging in something as intimate as a kidney transplant ignites our most basic curiosity. Who is now walking around with my kidney? What kind of a person is she or he? How does she or he feel about it? How is my kidney working out for them? And who gave my daughter the incredible gift of her new kidney? I mean, this is a vital organ we’re talking about. This is shared DNA. This is important, life-altering stuff.

By putting two and two and two together and watching those shuffling the post-op corridors and the comings and goings during endless hours in post-op waiting rooms, Kasari and Shirl were able to figure out whose kidney went to whom. Because we are not supposed to know these things, they had to be tentative, discreet and sensitive to signals when exchanging pleasantries before my daughter could say, “I think my mum’s kidney went to your husband. What do you think?”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

 

 

Organ donation by Humboldt Broncos player inspires others

Please read this article about the decision Humboldt Broncos hockey player, Logan Boulet, made to become an organ donor. In particular, note that there are 4500 people across Canada in need of an organ transplant, among them a two-year-old boy named Mason.

Organ donation by Humboldt Broncos player inspires others

Donation agencies across Canada say registration jumped after bus crash that claimed 15 lives

Humboldt Broncos defenceman Logan Boulet, 21, was from Lethbridge, Alta. Boulet had recently signed an organ donation card and was kept on life support while matches were found for his organs. He was expected to save the lives of at least six people. (SJHL)

Many social media users say the donation of Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet’s organs has inspired them to become donors themselves, with health officials in three provinces saying online registrations have surged in the days following the horrific crash.

A spokesperson for British Columbia’s organ donation agency said it saw more than a sixfold increase in online registrations over the weekend compared to two weeks earlier, and Ontario officials said registrations nearly tripled Sunday over the same period of time.

Boulet, a 21-year-old defenceman from Lethbridge, Alta., was among the 15 people who died after the junior hockey team’s bus and a transport truck in Saskatchewan collided Friday. Fourteen others were injured.

His godfather posted a statement on behalf of the family saying a surgical team from Alberta travelled to a Saskatoon hospital to conduct organ transplant procedures early Sunday morning.

Neil Langevin said six people were set to receive the “gift of life” from Boulet, and his other organs would be donated to science.

“Logan had made it known, and very clear to his family, that he had signed his organ donor card when he turned 21 just a few weeks ago,” Langevin said in a Facebook post.

“These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life for others.”

Click here to read more…

Transplant One Year Anniversary

One year ago, on Friday, July 29, 2016, I received a life altering kidney transplant from a living donor. Once again, I write in humble gratitude for the willingness of two friends in British Columbia to put their names forward as donors, with Gerald Neufeld being the one who finally was the one to “go under the knife.” I think as well of the tremendous care I received while in hospital, and of the loving support of my wife Etsuko, and my four children, Rika, Keila, Aisha and Aaron, who were with me during that day. There were also friends from church as well as friends from our neighbourhood who visited with me and my family before, during and/or after the surgery.

A lot has happened in the last year, much of it documented in this blog (“shout out” to Robert Chute — check out some of his books on Amazon — for helping me to get this little publishing venture off the ground). I seem to have become a “normal” person again: working 9 to 5 at the same place I had been before I went on dialysis — and that’s all right. In fact, I feel more “normal” than I have in 33 years when I was first diagnosed with kidney disease: no high blood pressure, no excess swelling or carrying around extra weight because my kidneys were not able to do the job, no tube coming out of my belly (I’ll avoid attaching the graphic photos for now) nor the related hooking up to a dialysis machine every night. I could go on. 

Thank you for your support, and thank you to every person who has registered as an organ donor.

I’ll post something again as the day gets closer and as I get my donation page a little more up-to date, but allow me to wrap this up by mentioning that I will once again be participating in the Kidney Walk in London, a fundraising event for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

A recent photo of me wearing my Kidney Walk t-shirt from 2016.

After Daughter’s Death, Dad Bikes 2,000 Miles To Hear Her Heartbeat One Last Time

You may have seen this in the media recently. It’s a very moving story about a father who had lost his daughter, Abbey Connor, to drowning, travelling by bicycle to raise awareness about organ donation. He arrived at his ultimate destination, the home of one of the recipients of his daughter’s donated organs, specifically, Loumonth Jack Jr., who received his daughter’s heart.

Although the emphasis is rightly on the power of organ donation to change lives, in this time of ongoing racial tensions it probably should not be lost on those who view the video that the donor was a young white woman and the recipient was a young black man. Does it not make the embraces between father Bill Connor and Loumonth and his various family members all that much more powerful?

Here is the story, written by McKinley Corbley and published on the Good News Network:

After Daughter’s Death, Dad Bikes 2,000 Miles To Hear Her Heartbeat One Last Time

This dad couldn’t contain his emotions when he heard his daughter’s heartbeat for the first time in six months.

That’s because 21-year-old Loumonth Jack Jr. was first diagnosed with a rare heart defect in January, and he was only given ten days to live unless he underwent a heart transplant.

In the very same week, Abbey Connor was found unconscious at the bottom of a hotel pool while on vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Connor was then taken into a Fort Lauderdale hospital where doctors discovered that she had irreparable brain damage.

Connor’s organs were harvested and Jack Jr. became the lucky recipient of her heart.

Continue reading here.

 

Wife of La Ronge man killed in robbery brought to tears by organ donation letter

Those in need of an organ transplant recognize that their well-being is often, almost always, the consequence of a tragedy. This article from CTV News Saskatoon illustrates that situation.

Wife of La Ronge man killed in robbery brought to tears by organ donation letter

The wife of a man who was killed during an armed robbery in La Ronge said she’s “just amazed” with how his donated organs are helping others.

Simon Grant’s organs were donated after his death in April. His wife, Cora Laich, received a letter from The Saskatchewan Transplant Program earlier this month that says how his donation is benefiting others.

Laich said the letter brought tears to her eyes.

“It was almost unbelievable to think … Simon’s organs were in other people’s bodies and that they were living on in their bodies,” Laich told CTV Saskatoon.

The letter said Grant’s lungs, liver and kidneys had all been transplanted successfully. The person who received his lungs is doing well and “in awe of the gift,” according to the letter.

His liver was transplanted successfully and two different people are off dialysis and doing well, thanks to his kidneys being donated.

Click here to continue reading.

A kidney for a guitar

Yesterday, February 27, I posted a message from Gerald Neufeld. As it turns out, the Canadian Mennonite magazine recently published an article about Gerald and me, written by Amy Dueckman.

A kidney for a guitar

‘Small steps of faith’ lead to organ donation

By Amy Dueckman, B.C. Correspondent
Abbotsford, B.C. | Feb 22, 2017 | Volume 21 Issue 5

geraldneufeld

Gerald Neufeld prepares to donate one of his kidneys in the Paired Kidney Exchange Program last year. (Photo courtesy of Gerald Neufeld)

Gerald Neufeld of B.C. and Russ Sawatsky of Ontario have several things in common: they both served as missionaries in Japan, where they met their wives; and they both attended Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg at the same time. But the donation of a kidney for one and the receiving of a kidney for the other gives the two a life-transforming connection like no other.

Neufeld, pastor of Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship in Surrey, also serves part-time as music coordinator of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford. One Sunday morning in November 2012, his 12-string guitar was stolen from Emmanuel as he was preparing to lead a worship team. He shared the loss as a prayer concern at a Vancouver pastors’ meeting. In response, the pastor from First United Spanish Mennonite Church said he knew one of his members had a 12-string guitar he wasn’t using. The member offered Neufeld the guitar at no cost, and he gratefully received it. Another request that later came from the pastors group was that someone from the Spanish church needed a kidney transplant.

Meanwhile, Sawatsky had been struggling for years with kidney failure and blogging about his journey (see kidneyforruss.wordpress.com). He went on medical disability leave when he began dialysis in 2014.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

If, like Gerald, you are interested in living organ donation, this link includes general information about both kidney and liver donations.

You can also register as a deceased organ donor by following the links or the contact information on this site for the province or territory where you reside.