Be a donor

When I was 13, I was suddenly unable to sleep. I was finishing my first year of high school and looking forward to a great end of year trip with my new high school friends. In order to sleep I had to pile up my bedding and stuffed animals into a mountain to lean on. I also noticed not being able to go up and down the stairs without huffing and puffing for a minimum 20 minutes. I had no idea what was going to happen next.

September 20, 2010 822

I had been very athletic my whole life. Dancing, swimming, gymnastics, soccer, figure skating, you name it, I tried it. My favourites were swimming and dancing and I did them regularly. When I was no longer able to do them without gasping for air or being sick to my stomach, I knew this was no regular puberty problem.

It came on extremely suddenly. I remember it happening within a couple of weeks. When I was not able to participate in my end of year dance show rehearsal, my mom took me to the local clinic. The diagnosis: pneumonia. The next day I slept through my dance show back stage after throwing up at my dance teachers feet.

The doctor had contacted my mom and urged her to take me to the hospital. The day after my recital we were on our way. The next few days I’d be shifted between hospitals and on so many meds that I have no memory of the 3 days before I finally woke up. My heart was failing.

I was in a hospital I didn’t recognize, being told that I should. I was told all kinds of things I didn’t understand. I’d be there for 5 months on a portable machine before seeing my home again. My heart was only strong enough to support the machine that kept it beating. I was healthy in every other way. No one knows what happened. The medical term for not knowing: idiopathic. The designation for what I was going through: idiopathic cardiomyopathy. There was nothing they could do. I needed a new heart.

I was lucky because I got one. Someone registered as a donor. Better yet, their family supported their decision and had their heart given to me. I’m determined to protect it. To give my donor the life she deserves. Bring her with me everywhere I go. Never give up. Never settle. Do my best. Live the best life I can. Prove to her that I am grateful every day for what she gave me. This doesn’t mean I haven’t had hard times. It means I never stop trying.

Being an organ donor is so easy. All you need to do is register here. Tell your family about your interest in donating. It is important that they accept your decision and promise to honour it for you.

If you want to help someone sooner, donate blood! Click here to find out more.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask! You can send me a message through my contact page.

Here are a few more resources to help answer some of your questions. Click the following links:

Canadian Transplant Association

Trillium Gift of Life Network

Organ Donation FAQ

Ottawa Gift of Life

Donate in Canada