‘So grateful to potentially save a life’

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‘So grateful to potentially save a life’

St. Michael’s awarded for commitment to organ and tissue donation

Toronto, October 9, 2019

By Ana Gajic


When Rosemin thinks of her sister Zahara, she remembers her love of family, her infinite generosity and the way she could light up a room.

So when a cerebral hemorrhage brought Zahara to the intensive care unit (ICU) at St. Michael’s Hospital and Rosemin learned her sister had signed up to be an organ donor, she wasn’t surprised.

“The fact that she thought to help people that she didn’t know through organ donation – that’s just the kind of person she was,” Rosemin said.

Zahara, 45, passed away in the ICU. With the help of the St. Michael’s team and the support of her family, she was able to become an organ donor and fulfill her last wish.

Supporting patients and their families through organ and tissue donation

This year, St. Michael’s has been awarded the Provincial Conversion Rate Award from Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) for the teams’ work with organ and tissue donation and for supporting families through a difficult and important process.

On behalf of St. Michael’s, Sonya Canzian receives the Provincial Conversion Rate Award from Trillium Gift of Life Network
On behalf of St. Michael’s, Sonya Canzian receives the Provincial Conversion Rate Award from Trillium Gift of Life Network.

Every year, TGLN sets a goal for the Provincial Conversion Rate, asking hospitals to meet the target conversion rate of 63 per cent. The conversion rate is the percentage of potential organ donors (patients who die in a hospital setting and are deemed medically suitable for donation) who become actual donors. St. Michael’s met the goal this year with 18 organ donors, leading to 73 transplants, as well as 35 tissue donors. St. Joseph’s Health Centre, another site of Unity Health Toronto, also met this year’s conversion goal.

“Every eligible family is offered the opportunity to save lives through organ and tissue donation as part of our effort to create the best end-of-life care experiences,” said Sonya Canzian, vice-president of Clinical Programs at St. Michael’s, and chief nursing and health professions officer. “We’re proud to receive this award, on behalf of all our staff and families who work together to enhance lives through donation.”

This year, St. Michael’s is also recognizing three hidden heroes of organ and tissue donation, whose efforts help the hospital save and improve lives:

  • Trisha Bazilewich, a clerical assistant in Perioperative Services
  • Nicole Fricker, a clinical assistant in the Trauma/Neuro ICU
  • Kaitlynn Kylie, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department

The impact of donation on staff and families

For Emily Boyle, a registered nurse in the Trauma/Neuro ICU, supporting families is a key part of her role. She sees the impact the team’s work with organ and tissue donation has on families grieving their loved ones.

“For the families who do decide to move forward with donation, they’re always focused on helping someone else,” she said. “It’s hopeful to be able to know that their loved one’s memory will live on in this way and know that they’ve helped somebody.”

The teams at St. Michael’s were able to offer Rosemin a sense of comfort and relief at a difficult time, she said.

“It was painful to see my sister in the hospital bed, not moving and not talking. But the teams at St. Michael’s treated her with respect. They kept her very comfortable and they gave us time to spend with her until the very end. That was one of the most important things they did for us and it was amazing.

“We are so grateful to them. So grateful Zahara was able to potentially save someone else’s life.”

Sign up to be a donor, or check your registration status online today at our donor drive.

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 more than 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.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit www.unityhealth.to.

See More of Our Stories in 2019