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Transplanted lives: Four organ recipients on what donation means to them – The Globe and Mail


The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Apr. 24 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

Last updated Thursday, Apr. 24 2014, 1:23 PM EDT

Steven Reilander

Steven Reilander, 27, lives in Sidney, B.C., where he runs an eponymous film production company, founded two years ago. Born with cystic fibrosis, he received a liver transplant in 1997.

“It certainly was life-changing. When you’re on a transplant list you’re critical. There’s no other options at that point. You get another chance at life is what it comes down to. Because I was so young and I was growing up with it, I kind of identified with it a lot. And even though I’ve had a liver transplant I still struggle with the CF as well, so there’s always some aspect in my mind that life is a little bit volatile.”

Sarah-Lyn Copeland

Sarah-Lyn Copeland, who lives in Barrie, Ont., was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just a few weeks old. She had a double lung transplant two weeks before her 18th birthday last October.

“Before, I couldn’t even go up and down the stairs without going into a huge coughing fit. And now I’m going to be doing a 5k run at the end of June. My goal before my transplant was to run with my dog. I was able to do that pretty soon after my transplant. This summer, my friends and I want to go camping. And I’m going to do a lot of swimming.”

Ben Giroux

Ben Giroux is in his second year of studying environmental science at Carleton University. The 20-year-old, who grew up in Ottawa, received a heart transplant at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in 2006.

“It was basically a nasty flu bug, but instead of attacking the entire body like it normally does, in my case it attacked just the heart. Now I’m fantastic. I couldn’t be healthier. It definitely gave me a greater appreciation for life in general. When I turned 18 I transferred from SickKids to the Ottawa Heart Institute. I actually volunteer there. I work in the gift shop. I thought it would be a good idea to get my volunteer hours for high school and also familiarize myself with where I’d be taken care of.”

Laura Gaudet

Laura Gaudet was diagnosed with cardiac fibroma, a tumour on her heart, when she was just a few days old. She underwent a heart transplant when she was three months old, in 2001. Now 13, she lives with her family in Amherst, N.S.

“I went to the World Transplant Games in Australia when I was nine. I won a bronze medal in the ball throw. I’m on the badminton team at school. I like to draw and cook. I like baking cakes and cookies. This summer I’m probably going to go to a camp called Camp Braveheart. I want to be a counsellor there one day. There’s a big lake there to go swimming or canoeing. And there’s other people there who have heart problems, like me, which is really cool.”

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