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Kidney Transplant program

A half century of success

The newspaper pages are faded but the stories shine through: two strangers become connected after each receiving a kidney from a deceased donor in 1979; a woman donates her kidney to a sister and marks the 300th transplant at St. Michael’s Hospital in 1984; a brother travels from Vietnam to Canada in the '90s to save his sibling’s life with a kidney transplant.

These are just a few of the stories the Kidney Transplant Program at St. Michael’s has seen over its 50-year journey.

Now, to celebrate half a century of success, the program is launching a campaign called #MyTXanniversary to encourage more people to register as organ donors and highlight its patients and staff by sharing stories of their own transplant anniversaries.

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

Having children after transplant: one mother’s storyHaving children after transplant: one mother’s story

Danielle had always wanted kids, but when she found out her kidneys were failing at age 29 she didn’t know what the future would hold.

Now, Danielle reflects on her transplant, the importance of family, and her two wonderful children.

Full story and video

Father who donated kidney to son turns 102Father who donated kidney to son turns 102

Some people fear that donating a kidney diminishes the donor's life in some way. Sam Allen, who just turned 102, begs to differ.

In 1991, his son John, who was 45 at the time, was on dialysis. After a childhood infection damaged his kidneys and caused the removal of one, John’s second kidney was failing. His dad, 74 at the time, felt compelled to help.

Full story

An unexpected chapter in a love story: one couple’s kidney transplant experienceAn unexpected chapter in a love story: one couple’s kidney transplant experience

Kevin and Qwelan were friends for almost 10 years before they started dating.

Their love story took an unexpected turn when Kevin needed a kidney transplant and Qwelan decided to step forward as a donor.

Full story and video

‘Life is not a dress rehearsal’: Transplant Games help patients live life fully‘Life is not a dress rehearsal’: Transplant Games help patients live life fully

Having a kidney transplant motivated Melanie Assing to do things she would have otherwise never done.

In one example of trying new things post-transplant, Assing decided to participate in the World Transplant Games in South Africa in 2013. She set off with her son and wasn’t sure what to expect.

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Zdenka Volek‘A chance to live again’: one patient’s journey to transplant

As a high school student in Bosnia, Zdenka Volek started to experience minor kidney function issues. She would experience symptoms for a few years at a time, and then they would pass. When Volek came to Canada in the early 1990s to escape war in her homeland, she found a nephrologist to manage her care. In 2006, her kidney function started to deteriorate, and in 2014 Volek went on dialysis.

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Dialysis is often seen as a bridge to transplantDialysis at Unity Health Toronto often seen as a 'bridge to transplant'

April 30 marks the last day of BeADonor Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness of organ and tissue donation.

At our organization, we offer dialysis at all three of our sites – and dialysis is often a bridge to transplant. The infographic below demonstrates some of the work our teams do with dialysis patients at Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital.

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Roberto Giordano
A patient’s journey from dialysis at St. Joseph’s to transplant at St. Michael’s

As Lauren Garraway and her mother Prema prepared for their surgeries, Lauren gave her mom a thumbs-up and said: “We’re going to come out of this laughing.” Lauren was preparing to receive a kidney, and Prema was getting ready to donate one of hers. Though Prema and Lauren were not a match, the two were part of the National Kidney Paired Donation program. Prema would donate her kidney to another kidney patient in need, and in turn, Lauren would receive one from a stranger.

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Roberto Giordano
‘I had nothing to lose’: St. Michael’s patient reflects on 42 years with kidney transplant

Nearly 43 years ago, Roberto Giordano received a kidney transplant at St. Michael’s Hospital. It was the early days of transplant, but when the doctors asked if he wanted the opportunity to have a kidney transplant, Giordano didn’t hesitate. “I had nothing to lose,” said Giordano, who was 24 years old at the time. Read more

Margot (left) and Nancy Glatt
‘The Gift’

Margot Glatt, a kidney donor at St. Michael’s Hospital, felt inspired to share her own organ donation story for the 50-year anniversary of kidney transplant at St. Michael’s. Through the National Kidney Paired Donation Program, a program that assists individuals who are not able to directly donate, Margot donated her kidney to a stranger. In turn her sister Nancy, who received care at the Ottawa Riverside Hospital’s nephrology department, received a kidney from another stranger. Read more

Paul was diagnosed with ADKPD in his twenties.Offering more options for transplant: One man’s successful transplant journey made possible by the only hospital in Canada to offer a rare procedure

When Paul looks back on life before transplant, he compares it to being a prisoner in his own body. “You feel like there's this better person inside of you that's locked in a cage,” he said. “And you just know you're a better person, but you're locked in there and you can't get out.” Read more

Andrew and his mother, Suk Yin’Nothing more meaningful that we can give’: a mom donates her kidney to her son

Andrew's first few memories of him at university include a home dialysis machine, which he brought into his dorm room. He had been diagnosed with a kidney disease when he was 10 years old, and over his teen years, it had gotten worse. Then, when he was 18, the St. Michael's Kidney Transplant Program found out his mom was a match to donate her kidney. Read more

The Kidney Transplant program at St. Michael's celebrates its 300th transplant when a woman donates her kidney to her sister in 1984.Half a century of success for the Kidney Transplant Program

Though the Kidney Transplant program is now one of the largest in the country, it started with humble roots. Fifty years ago, St. Michael’s successfully completed Canada’s first heart transplant, but kidney transplantation was the only organ transplant program that stuck. Read more