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Honouring the profound impact of living donors

Toronto, June 5, 2015

By Melissa Di Costanzo

Susan Pattison
Susan Pattison shares her story of donating an organ at the biannual Living Donor Appreciation Night. (Photo by Katie Cooper)

Susan Pattison’s decision to donate her kidney to a friend came from the heart.

“I couldn’t see my friend deteriorating on dialysis in the future,” said the RN of more than 30 years who donated her kidney at St. Michael’s. “I could make the difference for her.”

Pattison was one of three living donors honoured June 4 at Living Donor Appreciation Night, a biannual celebration in which three hospitals – St. Michael’s, the University Health Network and the Hospital for Sick Children – come together to honour living donors who have made a tremendous impact on someone’s life.

St. Michael’s, UHN and Sick Kids are the first three hospitals in Ontario to honour living donors with a pin symbolizing the gift they have given so generously. It features the Gift of Life green ribbon intertwined with a butterfly, the symbol of transformation.

Over the past two years, these three hospitals have performed 340 transplants from people who have donated either a kidney or portion of their liver to a child or adult. They’re easing burden on deceased donors’ list by donating their own organ to someone on that list who otherwise might still be waiting, said Dr. Jeff Zaltzman, Medical Director, Renal Transplant, at St. Michael’s.

“You have our deep and heartfelt thanks for your wonderful, generous act to a family member, to someone you know as a friend or acquaintance, and in some cases to someone who will remain a stranger,” said Dr. Zaltzman.

Pattison never doubted her decision. And, having worked in renal care in Mississauga, she said the process was smooth. She received assurances from staff at St. Michael’s, and said technicians were supportive and understanding.

Now, her friend is “healthy, and forever grateful.”

“I am a great supporter of organ donation,” Pattison said. “I see the benefits through work and now personally through [my friend].”

The two other living donor speakers were Martin Kelly, who donated his kidney to his dad at UHN, and Chad Dickson, who donated a portion of his liver to his then eight-year-old son, and a kidney to his two-year-old daughter, both patients at Sick Kids.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.